WEED AND SEED PROGRAM ANALYSIS
RUNNING HEAD: WEED AND SEED
WEED AND SEED PROGRAM
February 4, 2015
WEED AND SEED PROGRAM ANALYSIS
Everyone could remember sitting in your classroom or school auditorium listening to the guest speakers that have come to inform you and your piers of some kind of program the local police department has put together to steer young people from drugs, violence and gangs. One program I can remember specifically is the D.A.R.E program. Officers came to visit the class gave handouts played a few games and even taught us a song. After a couple of class meetings we graduated from the program and received a certificate but how effective was this program to the intended audience and did this deter the participants of the program from committing the acts of gang violence and drugs. When these programs are formed there appear to be a lot of questions as to How this will help the participants? And Does it do any good for the community? Programs like D.A.R.E are done locally but there are also Federal programs like the Weed and Seed program which is national and developed by the U.S. Department of Justice to Weed Out the bad in neighborhoods and to Seed them by restoration. My purpose for this analysis is to study this program and the reasons for the development, how this program is used in a criminological sense and the evaluation of how effective the program is.
The National Weed and Seed program was formed to "demonstrate an innovative and comprehensive approach to law enforcement and community revitalization" ("National Weed and Seed program," n.d) The Executive Office for Weed and Seed that is in the office of Justice Programs and they are responsible for the development, coordination and program policy. In 1991, the programs motive was to prohibit the criminal acts such as violence, drug abuse, gangs and trafficking but not only to prevent them but also manage or "seed" the activity that is already been going on in target areas. The key to restoring the areas was to aid the neighborhood by first revitalizing the economic and social status. The Weed and Seed has three main objectives, one is to "developing a comprehensive, multiagency strategy to preventing violent crime, drug trafficking and drug related crimes in the targeted areas."("National Weed and Seed Program," n.d.) The second objective is take old and new ideas along with ways of preventing the activity by combining these two with effective resources to enhance the chances of a decreasing or even overcoming the crimes happening in the target areas. The last objective is to assemble residents of the community and mobilize them into the target areas to help assist the law enforcement along with pointing out the crimes being committed and ruling them out. They also work with human resource agencies to gather information on what is needed for these particular neighborhoods. But the only way for this to be done is for everyone to come together with The Weed and Seed program like "law enforcement, community policing, prevention, and intervention, treatment and neighborhood restoration efforts." ("The National Weed and Seed Program", n.d.)
There are many people that are involved with the program but what is the role of the United States since this is a Federal program. As the central role, the U.S. Attorney's office has the responsibility of bring the communities together with the participants of the Weed and Seed program using the committee that was formed to steer this in the right direction. Only through cooperation can the federal agencies go about Weeding out the violent crimes in the target areas and bringing everything together using the resources that have been constructed to seeding the communities.
The United States Attorney's office in the Eastern District of New York has a count of eleven sites in their district. There are three funded and eight formerly funded sites of the Weed and Seed program. The program in this district has had a lot of success when it comes to preventing and reducing crime. A great number of gang members and others that are associated with drugs, trafficking, shooting and even homicides were arrested. This was a great accomplishment for the community because they are now able to use their places of residence with out the fear of crime in the streets. In addition to the huge significance of crime reduction in the areas other groups have been formed also to help the community. The local law enforcement officials decided to start a neighborhood watch and other organizations that have helped residents of the local areas with job development, another accomplishment for the Weed and Seed program. The Weed and Seed program is intended for people of all ages but their most influenced audience would be young children and young adults. To make this program more appealing to the younger people they have provided “after school programs, computer centers, performing arts and sports programs, youth entrepreneurship, job training and placement programs,” all designed for the youth and the ex offenders that need those skills to become part of the community once again. This becomes crucial to the community but law enforcement agencies, service providers and housing organizations do everything possible to make successful strategies so the ex offenders get a second chance.
The research branch in the Department, NIJ (National Institute of Justice) are responsible for evaluating federally sponsored programs such as Weed and Seed. We already understand the goal for Weed and Seed but the NIJ wants to understand the "nexus of crime in its community context."(Dunworth, Mills, Cordner & Greene, 1999). So they decided to expand the knowledge by building an evaluation of the programs motives they then set out to test the "impact of a variety of interventions in a variety of communities with a variety of measures."(Dunworth, Mills, Cordner & Greene, 1999) The evaluators went out and asked series of basic questions like How well did the strategy of Weed and Seed live up to the expectations of the program? What were the strong points and What were the weak points? and of course What could be improved to make the program better? The most important part was seeking out the impact, if any, the program had on its participants. To achieve these answers they selected eights cities for the national evaluation of The Weed and Seed strategy. After research was done the findings were released and as expected they were different from city to city. But it was shown through public perceptions the part 1 crimes which included: rape, homicides, robbery, aggravated assault, larceny, burglary, and auto theft did show a decrease in the following cities: Hartford, Pittsburgh, Manatee, Sarasota, Seattle, Akron, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Meadows Village (Las Vegas). However, each site had its own success along with the challenges they had to overcome but this is just a way for researchers to sit and create new ideas and strategies to make the programs better and more successful in the future as long as the goal remains to "prevent crimes and revitalize the community."(Dunworth, Mills, Cordner & Greene, 1999)
The Weed and Seed programs have great intentions and a lot of effort has been put into this to make sure that the streets of communities become safe once again for the residents and remain that way. The fact that they are organized in getting criminals off the streets but they also help them step back into the community in a positive light shows how much time and coordination was put into the thought of strategies for the program. To my belief this program does work although it has its flaws but that’s the whole purpose for the evaluations to not only test out the programs strategies but take the feedback and apply it along with new ideas that are being conducted for the future. I also liked that fact that it did more positive things for the community especially for the children and young adults by not only cleaning up the streets but giving back to the streets by the variety of programs offered like the performing arts and sports programs. I think those are designated to deter the children from going out and committing violent crimes, it gives them something to do instead of following the wrong crowd and getting into trouble. The second thing that I found pretty amazing about the program was as much as their intentions were to get the criminal off the streets and out of the communities and how many were arrested. They were given a second chance to turn things around and make a difference. Offering them job placement and job training is the most important thing due to the fact of how slim the chances are of someone getting a job after prison.
Although the findings were released I would like to know more about the recidivism rate with the ex offenders and how often are evaluations done for the program. In the research I read that their main goal for re entry to society was to give them (ex offenders) something better then before but I did not see anything from the evaluation findings on the decrease in ex offenders returning to prison or back to the streets. I did not expand my research in seeing how often these evaluations are done whether it is yearly or every time a new community has accepted the program. Another concern of mine was how the programs are advertised and are they ran differently in each city. I do think the program could do a bit more expanding but I do believe that funds maybe a big burden for that. Because of the how the findings varied from city to city I thought that the cities may have been running the program slightly different from each other.
In conclusion, programs like Weed and Seed tend to be overlooked or never even heard of. But I believe that if every city had at least one in their community and it was ran by cooperating agencies and residents of the neighborhoods that actually participated, a lot of things in the nation would be improved. It would be a safer place for children and adults. The crime rate would start to decrease and more ways to prevent crime can be presented. The Weed and Seed was one of the many accomplished programs we have in the nation but they all have the same goal in common serving the community by Weeding out the crimes and Seed the communities.
· National Weed and Seed Program U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Weed and Seed. (n.d.). Retrieved February 6, 2015, from http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/gun_violence/sect08-e.html
· What is Weed & Seed? (n.d.). Retrieved February 6, 2015, from http://www.justice.gov/usao/nye/weedseed.html
· Dunworth,T.&Mills,G.&,Cordner,G.&Green,J. (JULY 1999). National Evaluation of Weed & Seed Cross-Site Analysis. Retrieved February 6,2015 from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/176358.pdf