Chicago anti-violence program shows results, would it work in Milwaukee?

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- After another violent weekend in Milwaukee, city leaders are searching for answers. They may consider looking to Chicago for help with their gun violence problem.

A new study by the University of Chicago Crime Lab shows promising results from the READI program. Men who go through it are two-thirds less likely to be arrested. CBS 58's Bill Walsh spoke with Dr. Chico Tillmon, executive director for READI, about why the program works.

READI, which stands for Rapid Employment and Development Initiative," is an 18-month program that teaches men how to earn and keep a job, and how to deal with conflict.

"We take this intensive approach with individuals who are at the highest risk," Tillmon said.

Violence intervention and job training might not seem groundbreaking, there are existing programs in Milwaukee that do both, and Tillmon is familiar with them.

"I've been in the space of violence prevention for over a decade and have worked with people in Milwaukee like Reggie Moore and Arnitta (Holliman), people that are deeply embedded in the leadership in Milwaukee. I've worked with the CURE Violence model, which they use, and I've seen results," Tillmon said.

What Tillmon says might separate READI from other programs is cognitive behavioral therapy, or teaching men to deal with conflict with better outcomes.

"It's more sustainable to change the way people think about engaging in conflict," he said.

Dr. Tillman says characteristics of READI are definitely repeatable in Milwaukee, but he cautions against the public viewing any program as a cure-all for gun violence.

"It takes everybody taking responsibility for violence and working collaboratively, as opposed to putting the responsibility for violence on one organization," he said.

READI is funded by private donations, and it costs about $60,000 to put one person through the program. Dr. Tillmon notes that costs associated with prosecuting just one homicide can reach $1 million.

Learn more about the READI program by clicking here.

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