Garland disputes RAND Report findings

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Though some were mildly surprised that the RAND report released last month found the One Vision One Life anti-violence program had no measurable effect in decreasing homicides, more were vocally upset with the report’s finding an association between the program and an increase in aggravated assaults.

Richard_Garland
RICHARD GARLAND
One Vision One Life director

One Vision Director Richard Garland was among them.

“I’m working with the most at-risk population that no one else wants to work with. And there are a lot of people, ministers, folks at the county (government), people we’ve helped, who are very angry with the report and with RAND,” said Garland. “I’ll take the hit on the documentation (issues they raised) but not for the rest.”

As reported in the June 9 Courier, the RAND report found One Vision had no measurable effect on reducing homicides, yet the report also stressed the difficulties in making such a measurement.

“The available control measures, based on 2000 census data, could not measure demographic and socioeconomic changes that have since occurred in these neighborhoods.”

On the other hand, these limitations did not prevent the research team from finding One Vision “to be associated with increases in aggravated assaults and gun assaults in all three areas” where the program operates. In this case, as with homicides, the raw numbers are presented, but the report offers no explanation for the “association.”

“I don’t think we increased anything,” said Garland. “I think they asked the wrong questions.”

Professor Jeremy Wilson of Michigan State University, and RAND project leader, said try as they might, the team could not find a single explanation for the increase in assaults concurrent with the program’s implementation.

“In general, it’s a head scratcher—we expected the numbers to go down or show no change,” he said. “In no way are we trying to lay blame here. The best we can do with this analysis is to see this association, but we can’t say why it’s there. We try to reduce the variables, but at the end of the day it leaves people unsatisfied because we can’t say.”

Wilson said there are multiple factor that could account for the increase; coincidence, implementation problems, or the lack of directly comparative shooting data, but none stood out. It’s possible that the neighborhoods where One Vision was implemented were trending upward in assaults and the trend continued while falling off elsewhere.

Wilson said One Vision was great to work with, very cooperative and open.

“We spent a lot of time trying to figure this out, but based on the conditions, it’s impossible to say what the explanation is,” he said. “I have no doubt One Vision has made an impact in individual lives, but we can’t capture it at the neighborhood level. Maybe One Vision will have long-term effects we can’t pick up in this type of analysis. It would be interesting to come back in 10 years and look again.”

With One Vision being incorporated into the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime, which will allow it to coordinate its efforts with law enforcement, parole, social service pro­viders and community leaders, results are expected to be more tangible.

Garland said he expects the first PIRC meeting with gang members to happen soon, but could not comment beyond that.

“We’re trying to keep it under wraps ahead of time,” he said.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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