INDIANAPOLIS – A new report from the Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy (CRISP) takes a closer look at how residents, faith-based leaders, social service providers, and criminal justice professionals view crime on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis and its potential causes.
CRISP partnered with the John Boner Neighborhood Centers as part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Based Crime Reduction (CBCR) program to look at the relationship between mental health, substance abuse, and crime in a specific portion of the Near Eastside. In the study, the researchers interviewed groups of area residents, young people, community organizations, and those working in the criminal justice field.
The CBCR area is bordered by E. 10th Street to the north, E. Washington Street to the south, Rural Street to the west, and Emerson Avenue to the east. Crime rates in that area are at least twice as high as in other parts of the city. Data shows violent crime rates are highest in western neighborhoods within the CBCR area.
While this study found that substance abuse and mental illness contributed to crime in the area, not all other available data supported this finding. For instance, areas with higher levels of aggravated assaults did not necessarily also have high numbers of mental health-related emergency calls. Previous research has shown that while co-occurring conditions like substance abuse and mental health issues can exacerbate existing challenges, they are not sole drivers of crime.
Results from this study pointed to the cyclical relationship of substance abuse and mental illness, employment and economic instability, particularly highlighting how these factors weaken social supports in the community. Study participants felt a lack of localized social services made it hard for those struggling with disorders to get the help they need through traditional health care, which may push them to seek alternative ways to manage conditions.
Participants said that increasing awareness of support systems in the CBCR area could be a first step toward helping those struggling with co-occurring disorders while also potentially addressing the root causes of many issues in the area. The CRISP research study can be a crucial resource that provides a more holistic view for local leaders working to address crime and other socioeconomic issues on the Near Eastside.