Strict Enforcement of Firearm-Related Violence: Studying the Strategies of a Federal Task Force in Wilmington, North Carolina

Cecil Willis, University of North Carolina - Wilmington
Darrell Irwin, University of North Carolina - Wilmington

The systemic violence surrounding drug activity in Wilmington, North Carolina, as in many communities, inordinately effects high poverty areas that often include public housing. In this community during a recent six month period 66 percent of all aggravated assaults, robberies, and homicides occurred in public housing or in nearby residential neighborhoods. The "Wilmington Partnership" is a special task force composed of local, state, and federal agencies including police and prosecutors with the primary goals to reduce the level of violent crime overall and within specific offenders in the community and then seek to maximize the likelihood of apprehension, with special prosecution in either state or federal courts. Research on the effectiveness of this project evaluates whether once targeted offenders are convicted, their prosecution has deterred former associates and reduces violent crime within specific community areas. Interviews with police, probation officers and offenders, along with the results of a community study provides contextual data to detemine the effectiveness of this enforcement strategy. Finally, implications for various theories, including social disorganization, deterrence, and social control, are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006