Gun Violence Guru Receives Award

Sociology lecturer awarded for contributions to public safety

Anthony A. Braga, a Sociology lecturer, was one of 12 individuals honored last month by the U.S. Attorney General for his work to combat Boston gang crime.

The award, which recognizes individuals who contribute to community partnerships for public safety, was part of the 57th Annual Attorney General’s Awards, a slate of national public service awards presented in Washington, D.C each year.

Braga, along with the award’s other recipients, was nominated by U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and personally approved by U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. The other awardees included members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, the U.S. Department of Justice, local law enforcement, and anti-violence advocacy groups.

Braga, who specializes in criminal justice and policy, was recognized primarily for his work with two specific public safety projects: Operation Ceasefire, a program that seeks to reduce gun violence among gangs and youth, and the Boston Re-entry Initiative, which helps former prisoners transition to law-abiding lives in the community.

For each program, Braga used his knowledge of statistical analysis to help the organizations achieve their goals. Working with Operation Ceasefire, Braga studied quantitative data to identify Boston’s most dangerous gangs, allowing law enforcers to focus on those areas with the highest levels of violence. He also used his statistical expertise to evaluate the Boston Re-entry Initiative and determine its effectiveness in preventing repeat offenses.

True-See Allah, director of the Boston Re-entry Initiative and one of the award’s other recipients, said that Braga’s findings have been a crucial component of the organization’s work.

“I’m not a data person but the stats do tell a story,” he said.

Braga wrote in an e-mailed statement that his motivation to study violent crime stemmed from past personal experience.

“I have been the victim of violent crime and understand what it is like to be afraid to walk around public spaces,” he wrote. “Over the years, I have also known many young men and women who have been lost to gun violence in Boston’s neighborhoods.”

Braga credited his success to the supportive academic environment at Harvard, which has allowed him to engage in service outside of the “Ivory Tower” and bring “real-life lessons and insights to the classroom.”

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