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Vision Philadelphia releases “Eight Hard Truths About Violence for Philadelphia”—comprehensive insights about tackling serious community violence in Philadelphia for the next mayor

May 3, 2023

With violence intervention and reduction as a top priority for the next mayor, Vision Philadelphia provides research-based assessments of a range of proposals to address the increased shootings and homicides experienced across the city.


Philadelphia, PA— “Eight Hard Trusts About Violence for Philadelphia” is the third installment of papers released by Vision Philadelphia—an on-going series that explores promising solutions for the next mayor and city leadership of Philadelphia to improve city services and quality of life for all Philadelphians.  The paper, co-authored by a team of experts from the University of Pennsylvania Crime and Justice Policy Lab (CJP), supports a comprehensive approach to violence, specifically shootings and homicides, that include the following key elements:

  1. careful analysis of the crime and violence problems facing the city;
  2. a clear set of desired outcomes;
  3. a strategy based on research and evidence; and
  4. a focused management structure.

“We’ve pulled together research from a lot of sources and combined it with our experience doing this work in cities across the US,” says Ben Struhl, MPP, Executive Director of CJP. “In order to bring down violence, city leaders will need to understand Philadelphia’s particular challenges and context. The hard truths we present are the starting point for understanding some of the challenges that face the city.”

The paper provides data and evidence on what works and what doesn’t, such as the impact of tactics like stop and frisk, gun buyback programs, and the use of technology. It also explores evidence for improving conditions in communities and how that can reduce crime and violence.

“The violence experienced in our communities and neighborhoods risks undermining everything we as a city have invested in to improve the quality of life for Philadelphians, such as investments in revitalized parks, libraries and recreation centers, and investments in education, the arts, and cultural opportunities,” says Shawn McCaney, Executive Director of the William Penn Foundation. “To continue the work of advancing the long-term improvement of the city, we must thoughtfully and effectively tackle the issue of public safety in the near term.”

“Eight Hard Truths about Violence for Philadelphia reinforces that cities that have been effective in reducing gun violence establish a highly integrated and well-coordinated gun violence reduction strategy that deploys evidenced-based approaches that are well managed” said Pedro Ramos, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation. “It is also critical to engage civic, community, and corporate partners outside of government and law enforcement to help maintain a continued focus on violence reduction efforts over the long term.”

More papers will be released over the course of the year to spark dialogue among candidates and the broader Philadelphia community.  To read the first three papers and for ongoing updates, visit:

About Vision Philadelphia

Vision Philadelphia is a collaborative of Philadelphia-based philanthropic organizations committed to advancing promising solutions to improve city services and quality of life for all Philadelphians.

Vision Philadelphia is supported in part by The Barra Foundation, Neubauer Family Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia Foundation, Regional Foundation, Scattergood Foundation, Stoneleigh Foundation, William Penn Foundation, and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the organizations. As nonpartisan organizations, they do not grant permission for reprints, links, citations, or other uses of these papers in any way that suggests that the participating entities endorse a candidate, party, product, or business.