In Chicago, as elsewhere in the country, young adult Black men bear the disproportionate burden of gun violence victimization alongside the burdens of aggressive policing and lengthy prison sentences. However, this population is often not prioritized for social service supports. Most social services are primarily designed for women, families, and the elderly or disabled; few are designed to help non-disabled, working-age men disconnected from the labor market, even though they are at the highest risk of gun violence. We need solutions that reduce surging gun violence without exacerbating the harms of the criminal legal system. This effort includes finding ways to effectively support the adult men at the highest risk of shooting or being shot.
Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago is a gun violence intervention that identifies men in five of Chicago’s highest-violence neighborhoods who are – even compared to their neighbors – at the highest risk of gun violence involvement and engages them through relentless street outreach efforts. READI then offers these men two primary sources of support: an 18-month subsidized, supported job and cognitive-behavioral programming.
Researchers from the University of Chicago Crime Lab, the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab, the University of Michigan, and Cornell University are conducting a randomized controlled trial to determine READI’s impact on participants’ involvement in serious violence. As of June 2023, this study is one of the largest and most rigorous studies of a community violence intervention program in the United States.
The study shows that READI can find and engage men at extremely high risk of gun violence. READI’s combination of services, while not lowering all forms of violence, appears to reduce involvement in shootings and homicides, the most severe and socially costly forms of violence.
2017 – present
Senior Research Director
Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies
Chris P. Dialynas Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Assistant Professor of Economics
Learn more about the READI program.
Predicting and Preventing Gun Violence: An Experimental Evaluation of READI Chicago – Working Paper
Learn more about the technical details of the READI study.
READI Policy Brief
Read more about our preliminary findings.
This Crime Lab newsletter mentions preliminary results on the 20-month evaluation of READI Chicago. To stay informed about the latest findings on READI, please refer to our policy brief or journal article.
Senior Research Director Monica Bhatt highlights that participation in programs like READI Chicago led to significantly fewer arrests for shootings and homicides
The Crime Lab’s analysis reveals a stark contrast in homicide rates across different parts of Chicago, with significant increases in areas like Austin and Garfield Park, and a citywide arrest rate decline. Additionally, Senior Research Director Monica Bhatt highlights that participation in programs like READI Chicago led to significantly fewer arrests for shootings and homicides.
Probable Causation: Sara Heller & Max Kapustin discuss the Crime Lab’s work with READI and BAM
Dr. Sara Heller, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan, and Max Kapustin, Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Cornell University, discuss their work and strategies for reducing gun violence.
The Crime Lab’s evaluation of READI Chicago is showcased by the Chicago Sun-Times
The Crime Lab’s evaluation of READI Chicago’s effectiveness is showcased. The program focuses on crime prevention by offering education, support, and cognitive behavior therapy to high-risk men in the South and West sides of the city. The study found that the READI program has successfully kept these men from being arrested, demonstrating that proactive crime prevention strategies can be more effective than reactive punishment after committing a crime.