Urban Labs Crime Lab

The Crime Lab partners with civic and community leaders to design, test, and scale promising programs and policies to reduce crime and violence. If you have a media inquiry, please reach out to Julia Quinn: jquinn1@uchicago.edu

Innovation for a Safe Chicago

Leveraging Science to Save Lives

Around the globe, roughly 500,000 people are murdered every year. Millions more are the victims of other crimes. Crime, particularly violent crime, is very regressive in its impact, often concentrated in a society’s most economically marginalized and racially segregated communities. Reducing crime and the social harms associated with the criminal justice system is critical to the long-term vitality and economic health of cities.

Unfortunately long-term progress on reducing violent crime has been slow. Although the U.S. has dramatically reduced mortality rates from almost every other leading cause of death, homicide rates in America today are about the same as they were in 1950. One reason for this lack of long-term progress is that our policy approaches to reducing violence have been largely divorced from the profound benefits of systematic, scientific inquiry. 

There is no shortage of innovation, but there is a striking lack of evidence about what actually works, for whom, and why. Using randomized controlled trials, insights from behavioral economics, and predictive analytics, the Crime Lab partners with policymakers and practitioners to generate evidence about the strategies that reduce violence and do the most social good per dollar spent—including strategies that seek to prevent crime from happening in the first place, to make the criminal justice system more effective and fair, and to help policymakers better understand who benefits most from interventions and why. With this body of evidence, the Crime Lab aims to help cities design promising interventions and make investments that are cost-effective, targeted and scalable, to reduce crime and keep our most vulnerable communities safe.

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Our People

Crime Lab staff partner with civic and community leaders to generate evidence on what works to tackle crime, violence, and the collateral costs the criminal justice system.

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