Vernon Smith was an intern with the Authority’s Research and Analysis Unit. Vernon received his master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago and his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Northwestern University. He is currently working as a program and management analyst for the US Department of Education. Vernon is particularly interested in issues related to drug prevention and rehabilitation, juvenile justice, and the school to prison pipeline.
Gun violence continues to be a major criminal justice and public health issue. This article provides an overview of one strategy to reduce gun violence—focused deterrence. The strategy has been employed in many major U.S. cities, including in Illinois in Chicago, Peoria, and Rockford. Overall research on focused deterrence strategies has found statistically significant reductions in violent crime.
Opioid and heroin use is surging in Illinois communities and across the country with dramatic increases in the number of users and deaths by overdose. Communities, criminal justice practitioners, and public health professionals are struggling to help those suffering from opioid use disorders and, ultimately, save lives. This article provides an overview of the opioid epidemic and its causes, including the link between prescription opioids and heroin.