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Over the past two decades, a plethora of state and non-state actors, in a desire for peace, have initiated several violence-reduction/ intervention programmes in August Town. So when, in 2016, the violence-plagued community recorded “zero murders,” all of Jamaica took note. CAPRI launched its study on Zero Murders: Searching for Lessons from Two Decades of Anti-Violence Interventions in August Town on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, at the UWI Mona Visitors' Lodge. Mr. Fitz Bailey, Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Jamaica Constabulary Force; Mr. Tarik Weekes, Research Fellow at the Institute of Criminal Justice and Security and Ms. Venesha Phillips, Peoples National Party’s Councillor for the Papine Division joined Dr. Diana Thorburn, Director of Research at CAPRI in the discussion. The conversation was moderated by Ms. Danielle Andrade from Goffe Law.
Dr. Thorburn shared the three hypotheses that could possibly explain the remarkable year of zero murders in the community of August Town. These included community and mediation, diminished presence of the virulent actors (high impact violence producers) and the commercial and personal interest of the violent gang members. Dr. Thorburn also shared that with more than two dozen anti-violence interventions that were implemented by both local and international entities to reduce violent activities, they all fail to be sustainable.
The presentation concluded with Dr. Thorburn sharing recommendations from the study. Some of which included: to invest in the relationships between the police and the community, to conduct evidence-based research and systematic monitoring to better under understand the relationship between the overseas gang affiliates and the activities in August Town, interventions must be evidence-based and have built-in, scientific, transparent and rigorous evaluation mechanism and all stakeholders to form a consensus on violence interruption and mediation.