Joseph Marshall

Ashoka Fellow
San Francisco, United States
Fellow Since 2004
My work: To end violence in the US by treating violence as a communicable disease.


This profile was prepared when Joseph Marshall was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
The Street Soldiers methodology is based on the premise that violence is a disease, complete with risk factors, treatment, and prevention. Dr. Joseph Marshall offers a technique for local communities and national leaders to solve previously intractable problems of violence. When Dr. Marshall began his work 17 years ago, youth violence was primarily considered a challenge to law enforcement, which approached the issue mainly through patrolling and punishment. Today, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Marshall and others, youth violence is increasingly seen as a public health issue, and solutions focus on treatment rather than fruitless punitive responses.

Over the last 10 years, Dr. Marshall has trained hundreds of community organizers and public school educators, and has written about his work in national journals, books, and reports, including the 2001 Surgeon General’s Report on Youth Violence. By defining violence as a disease, he provides a non-judgmental framework that makes it easier for perpetrators to seek treatment. He identifies the risk factors for violence that individuals can control, empowering those who would otherwise feel helpless to focus on what actions they can take to change their lives. By offering a clear alternative way of life, known as “the cure,” it offers an effective, self-sustaining mechanism for preventing and avoiding violence.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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