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America at a Crossroads

Reimagining Federal Funding to End Community Violence


For decades, our nation has failed to adequately address the gun violence that plagues underserved communities in our cities.

Federal funding for violent crime prevention has been insufficient, unfocused, and sometimes harmful, contributing to the mass incarceration that has hollowed out communities of color while failing to significantly decrease homicides. 

Preface

As a country and as a gun violence prevention movement, we must reckon with the fact that for decades, we have overwhelmingly pursued the wrong strategies and tactics, locking up scores of young men of color while simultaneously failing to protect the most vulnerable members of our society from gun violence.

Yet in the midst of these missteps and missed opportunities, there’s still hope.

Each of the major federal funding streams explored here—the Victims of Crime Act, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, and Project Safe Neighborhoods—can be used to fund evidence-informed, community-based violence prevention strategies that actually work. But it will take intentional and sustained advocacy to move these systems in a different direction.

In this report, we examine each program in detail and identify ways for advocates to help better leverage these existing opportunities. We also recommend structural reforms to improve each program. Finally, we propose an overhaul to the federal system, centered on the creation of an Office on Community Violence, modeled after the Office on Violence Against Women.

Our government has a mandate to protect its citizens, including and especially from a devastating epidemic perpetuated by corporate special interests like the gun lobby. We refuse to accept these deaths as inevitable, or to write off any American because of the color of their skin or their zip code. Our leaders can and must do better, and we will do everything in our power to hold them accountable until they do. 

MEDIA REQUESTS

Our experts can speak to the full spectrum of gun violence prevention issues. Have a question? Email us at media@giffords.org.

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Introduction

The world was dealing with a global pandemic that would go on to kill millions of people. The United States also faced a looming presidential election, protests and uprisings in cities across the country, and tremendous social and political tension around racial injustice, police brutality, and economic inequality.

The year? 1968.

As the US struggled to confront many of the same issues it still faces today, the Johnson administration appointed a commission to answer three fundamental questions about protests in major American cities:What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again?1

At that time, the most recent government investigation into civil unrest and violence was the McCone Commission, which explored the roots of the Watts uprisings in 1965 and ultimately accused “riffraff” of spurring unrest, furthering the widely held belief that the protests were simply an outlet for the perceived “violent tendencies” of angry young men of color and groups with “radical” social agendas.2

After a seven-months-long investigation, which included public hearings in cities around the country, Johnson’s commission, led by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner Jr., released its findings. The Kerner Report was issued on February 29, 1968, and became an instant national bestseller.3  

In sharp contrast to the McCone Commission, the Kerner Report concluded that one of the main causes of violence and civil unrest in cities was racism. The report found that white America bore much of the responsibility for uprisings in communities of color, declaring that “racism—not Black anger—turned the key that unlocked urban American turmoil.”4

The Kerner Report called for the creation of new jobs, construction of new housing, and an end to de facto segregation.5 It recommended that the government provide needed services, hire more diverse and culturally sensitive police forces, and invest billions in tackling segregation. In short, the Kerner Report called for a huge investment into communities of color and a concerted effort to bring fairness and legitimacy to police forces, many of the same solutions that are central to the Black Lives Matter movement.6

White backlash to the Kerner Report was immediate. Polls showed that 53 percent of white Americans condemned the claim that racism had caused the riots, while 58 percent of Black Americans agreed with the findings.7 The Kerner Report’s findings caught President Johnson off guard and he responded by simply ignoring them—even though they constituted the painstakingly detailed recommendations of a respected group of political leaders he himself had appointed. Instead, Johnson continued to embrace “a set of policies that managed problems of poverty and inequality through policing and surveillance of low-income communities and incarceration.”8

America’s response to the Kerner Report helped lay the foundation for the law-and-order campaign that helped get Richard Nixon elected to the presidency later that year. Nixon’s campaign rhetoric ultimately materialized as national policy in the form of the “war on drugs,” which formally launched in 1971.9 Years later, Nixon’s domestic policy chief, John Ehrlichman, admitted that the war on drugs was intentionally designed to destabilize communities of color, particularly Black communities.10    

This racist “law and order” approach took the country down an incredibly destructive path. Decades later, the US has the world’s largest prison population—housing 25% of the world’s prisoners despite having only 5% of its population—and a criminal justice system that wreaks havoc on communities of color.11  Despite bipartisan calls for change, America is still tremendously segregated, and inequality is the worst it’s been since the 1920s.12  

Racism—not Black anger—turned the key that unlocked American turmoil.

While violence has decreased since its peak in the 1990s, it has remained essentially flat over the last two decades. Summer 2020 saw an increase in violence in a number of cities across the country, attempts by our president to employ the National Guard against American citizens, and racist rhetoric from the highest office in the land—coupled with a call to return to “law and order.”13 With the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, America finds itself at a crucial crossroads much like the one our country faced in 1968.

The choice is now ours to make: will we travel down a path of over-policing, systemic racism, and mass incarceration? Or will we instead make a meaningful commitment to reckoning, reconciliation, and reform?

One of the keys to achieving a more just and more peaceful America will be focusing significant investments on strategies that will reduce violence in our most impacted neighborhoods, while simultaneously decreasing law enforcement’s harmful footprint, particularly in communities of color.14 This is because violence is both a symptom and a root cause of inequality. Acts of violence spread through a community much like a virus: exposure to violence puts people at greater risk of future violence.15  

Over half of gun homicide victims are Black men

Black men make up 52% of all gun homicide victims, despite comprising less than 7% of the population.

Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed June 24, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations were based on five years of the most recently available data: 2014 to 2018.

Violence, which occurs disproportionately in underserved communities of color, leads to high levels of PTSD and other negative health effects, including higher rates of heart disease and even cancer.16 Violence also reduces educational opportunities and attainment: studies have shown that young people who live in areas where gunfire is more common perform worse on tests, and in the immediate aftermath of shootings, test scores drop considerably.17  While we need to address many interlocking systems in order to achieve true safety and equality in the US, community violence is one of the fundamental issues to prioritize because of the hierarchy of needs. Improved schools, for example, cannot be effective if students must dodge bullets on their way to and from class.18

There are various forms of violence, and each requires a slightly different response. This report is focused on “community violence,” which we define generally as serious violence committed by one person against another outside of the context of a romantic relationship. Community violence includes homicides, nonfatal shootings, and stabbings, and both the perpetrators and victims of community violence are disproportionately young men of color.19

A number of violence intervention and prevention strategies exist to help heal our most underserved neighborhoods without contributing to mass incarceration—but we have yet to invest in these solutions in a manner that will bring them to scale. Giffords has previously published reports exploring how these strategies have been successful at the city and state levels. Although we know what works when it comes to reducing community violence, and that enormous benefits accrue to the entire country when violence levels are successfully lowered,20 our national policies still do not come close to reflecting the importance, gravity, and urgency of this issue. 

America at a Crossroads takes a look at the current federal landscape when it comes to addressing community violence and provides readers with a snapshot of current investments, an analysis of opportunities to leverage existing funds more effectively, and a call to dramatically rethink our nation’s investments in strategies to reduce community violence.

This report and our organization’s community violence work is premised on four fundamental truths:

First, gun violence is an ongoing public health epidemic in the United States, claiming nearly 40,000 lives and causing tens of thousands of injuries each year. Every single one of these deaths and injuries is both tragic and preventable.21

Issue 

Community Violence

Every American should be able to live, work, and play in their community free from the threat of gun violence.  

Second, the majority of gun homicides come not from headline-grabbing mass shootings, but daily shootings on our city streets.22 Community violence disproportionately impacts urban neighborhoods of color, and particularly young men. Black and Hispanic Americans make up less than a third of the population, but account for nearly three-quarters of all gun homicide victims in the US. Homicide is also the leading cause of death of young Black men.

Third, in recent years a number of incredibly effective solutions to community violence have been developed and implemented in several American cities.23 Many of these strategies address violence through a community-centric, public health lens rather than a traditional criminal justice approach. Cities implementing these solutions have seen remarkable results: in Oakland, California, shootings and homicides dropped by nearly 50% between 2012 and 2018.24

Fourth, there has not been nearly enough investment in these innovative solutions at any level of government, especially at the state and federal levels, and there is no coherent federal policy to support the field of community violence prevention.25 Nationally, our investments in addressing violent crime have almost exclusively come in the form of funding the expansion of suppression-based approaches to violent crime.26 We need to rethink our strategy and invest in comprehensive solutions to community violence with a dedication that more closely matches our approaches to domestic violence, the opioid epidemic, and car accidents.27  

This report was created for advocates and policymakers around the country with two express purposes in mind:

1) To provide a better understanding of the landscape of existing federal programs that could be better leveraged to address community violence, with a focus on three programs: the Victims of Crime Act, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, and Project Safe Neighborhoods. Since all three of these programs give significant discretion to state agencies in deciding how to allocate resources, directing more federal dollars to effective, community-based violence reduction strategies is often a matter of targeted state and local advocacy. This report identifies past missteps and future opportunities, and describes successful examples of advocacy and investment from different parts of the country.

2) To propose a way to fill the large gaps in existing federal investments. Fundamental system change requires working with what already exists and also charting a course to a new future. Current federal investments to address community violence are completely inadequate, for the reasons that will be discussed in this report. There is no federal agency dedicated to understanding and addressing community violence, as there is for domestic violence. This report recommends the creation of a federal Office on Community Violence, drawing inspiration from the Office on Violence Against Women, and provides an outline of what such an office should look like.

Following the “law and order” philosophy of the Nixon era, from which America has never really departed, federal funding for public safety has almost exclusively been allocated to supporting law enforcement, with very little accountability and oversight. It’s long past time to commit to a federal solution to community violence that emphasizes investment in impacted communities and moves away from destructive law enforcement practices of the past. Community members, advocates, and other stakeholders have been proposing this basic solution for decades. It’s time for America’s leaders to finally listen.

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SPOTLIGHT

GUN LAW SCORECARD

The data is clear: states with stronger gun laws have less gun violence. See how your state compares in our annual ranking.

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Victims of Crime Act

In a single moment, a bullet can change everything.

On a fall day in 2017, 16-year-old Taequan was playing pickup basketball on a court next to his home in Richmond, Virginia. Things got physical, tempers flared, and angry words were traded between the teams. After the game, Taequan was hanging out near the court with teammates when a car drove by and shots rang out. Taequan was hit three times.

Taequan found himself in a hospital room at a Richmond trauma center, being treated for gunshot wounds in his leg, hip, and back. Fortunately, Taequan pulled through. But surviving the shooting was just the first hurdle.

Taequan happened to be shot in one of the 30 or so American cities with trauma centers that have implemented hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs). As Taequan lay in his hospital bed, recovering from multiple injuries, he was approached by a case worker from a program called Bridging the Gap.28 During Taequan’s nine-day stay in the hospital, his Bridging the Gap case manager visited him daily, bringing him a number of initial resources, and providing emotional support to him and his family.

A gunshot wound often ripples out into the wider community, and Taequan’s case was no exception. As soon his mother learned of the shooting, she went to the hospital and refused to leave her son’s side. She spent so much time nursing Taequan back to health that she lost her job and started falling behind on rent payments.29 As Taequan transitioned home, still unable to use one of his legs and relearning how to walk, he and his family faced the threat of impending eviction.

Rachelle Hunley, Taequan’s case manager, worked to help his family address this host of new challenges. To deal with the immediate emotional crisis of the shooting, including the fear of moving back to their home, Rachelle referred both Taequan and his mother to mental health services through VCU’s Trauma Psychology Program. She also helped the family gain access to food and successfully apply for food stamps. Working with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Bridging the Gap staff were able to negotiate a plan to avoid eviction, which included helping with back payment of rent and associated fees. The family was also relocated to a new unit in order to help ease fears about returning to their building.

When Taequan was able to return to school, he understandably struggled to focus and acted out. After Taequan was expelled and placed in an alternative school, Rachelle provided him with additional mental health services, including enrolling him in Emerging Leaders, a group program run by Bridging the Gap for young people who have been the victims of serious violence.

“You have to understand, this was not a ‘bad’ kid,” said Rachelle, who is now the Bridging the Gap Network Manager at VCU.30 “This was a kid facing really hard circumstances and he was going through a lot. When a young person gets on the wrong path, people are quick to say ‘it’s their fault, they didn’t make good decisions,’ but that misses important social context. When we identify what’s causing some of those challenges and provide extra help and support, people can choose a different path, and Taequan is an example of that.”31         

As he worked through alternative school, Taequan began to show great improvement in his behavior, school work, and self-esteem. Ultimately, he accomplished his goal of returning to high school and, thanks to a partnership between Bridging the Gap, the Mayor’s Youth Academy, and VCU Healthcare Career Pathway, Taequan started an internship program at VCU, where he worked in the patient transportation department and had the chance to shadow doctors, trauma surgeons, and violence prevention professionals.

In 2019, Taequan graduated from high school. As he was trying to figure out what to do next, he was offered a part-time job by the patient transportation department at VCU, where he had made a positive impression as an intern the year before. He continues to dream about working in healthcare as a physical therapist or even as a violence prevention professional, like the staff at Bridging the Gap.32  

Taequan at his high school graduation in 2019.

“Despite the challenges he’s faced, he continues to be an incredibly positive person and wants his story to uplift and educate the community,” said Rachelle.33 “He’s been such a success, but it’s crazy to think of all the people like Taequan who aren’t getting the help and services they need.”34

It’s not difficult to imagine a very different outcome had Taequan not received services from Bridging the Gap. In areas of the country where HVIP services are not available, as many as 45% of gunshot victims are shot again within just five years and are at elevated risk of committing violence themselves.35 HVIPs can help break this cycle: studies from around the nation show how HVIPs improve public safety by significantly lowering the risk that participants will be violently re-injured, perpetrate violence, or otherwise become ensnared in the criminal justice system in the years following hospital discharge.

There is still great need to bring effective strategies like HVIPs to scale in America. One federal funding stream that can help accomplish this is the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). At the time Taequan was shot in 2017, Bridging the Gap was the only HVIP in Virginia. However, a recent investment of nearly $2.5 million in VOCA funds36 has enabled the Virginia Hospital Association to work with VCU and the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention, a national network of HVIPs, to bring programs to nine other hospitals around the Commonwealth.37  

Several other states, including New Jersey and California, are also starting to use VOCA money to fund effective programs like HVIPs. Advocates can and should play a major role in speeding up and expanding this progress.       

Victims of Crime Act Origins

The idea that crime survivors should receive assistance from the government may sound like a given, but it’s actually a surprisingly recent concept first proposed in the 1950s by English reformer Margery Fry. It wasn’t until 1963 that New Zealand became the first country to pass a law that provided financial reimbursement to victims of crime.38

Around the same time, a movement dedicated to shining a light on the experiences of crime survivors was beginning to build momentum in the United States. It wasn’t enough to punish the perpetrator of a crime, these advocates argued, it was also necessary—and perhaps even more important—to support and directly compensate the victims.

In the words of US Supreme Court Justice A.J. Goldberg, “one who suffers the impact of criminal violence is also the victim of society’s long inattention to poverty and social injustice.”39  But this growing sense that society had an obligation to those whom it failed to protect from crime was not reflected in the country’s laws or policies. State officials, at the urging of crime survivor advocates, realized that political action was necessary to ensure the institutionalization of victim assistance programs.

In 1965, California became the first state to create a system of compensation for victims of crime, soon followed by New York. As this nascent movement gained steam, more and more states created victims’ assistance programs and passed constitutional amendments designed to recognize and protect the core rights of crime survivors. As more states took action, a national victims’ rights movement began to find its voice through the formation of groups like the National Organization for Victims Assistance (NOVA).

In the 1980s, at the urging of groups like NOVA, President Ronald Reagan created the Presidential Task Force on Victims of Crime, which was charged with creating a set of recommendations as to how federal policy could be reformed to better support crime survivors. After holding public hearings around the country, the Task Force published a final report that made the case for the passage of federal legislation that would fund state-level victim compensation and assistance programs.40 This created the foundation for what would become the Victims of Crime Act.

Victims of Crime Act Overview

Enacted in 1984, VOCA created a system of federal grants designed to support the expansion of services for crime survivors.41 VOCA grants are administered by the Office for Victims of Crime, which sits within the Department of Justice.42 For the purposes of this report, the most relevant aspects of VOCA are the state victim compensation and state victim assistance programs.43 To resource these grant programs, VOCA created the Crime Victims Fund (CVF), which is unique in that it is not funded by taxpayer dollars. Instead, CVF is supported by the payment of criminal fines, penalties, forfeitures, and special assessments by individuals and organizations convicted of breaking federal law. A major portion of these payments come in the form of criminal fines paid by large corporations convicted of wrongdoing. In 2017, Volkswagen paid $2.8 billion into CVF in connection with its emissions cheating scandal.44

Over time, CVF has grown exponentially, with a balance of approximately $6 billion in 2020—even as the number of corporations prosecuted for federal crimes annually has steadily declined.45 Each year, Congress establishes a cap on how much may be spent from CVF. For many years, the cap hovered around the $500 million mark, but in FY2015, Congress increased the cap dramatically, up to $2.3 billion—a more than fourfold increase.46  This change was the result of years of advocacy on the part of service providers and advocates across the country who pushed for more CVF dollars to be distributed “in order to more effectively meet the needs of crime victims—especially those who continue to fall through the cracks.”47

Under federal law, a certain amount of CVF funds must be used for a series of programs like the Children’s Justice Act Program, which provides resources to states to improve the handling of cases involving child sexual abuse and exploitation.48 Once these smaller allocations are made, remaining funds are to be divided in the following manner: up to 47.5% to the VOCA state compensation program (in practice, this ends up being much less than 47.5%), at least 47.5% to the VOCA state assistance program (plus any funds remaining after compensation spending obligations are satisfied), and 5% to competitive grants administered at the discretion of the Office for Victims of Crime, for purposes including pilot programs, evaluations, and the provision of training and technical assistance.49  

Compensation versus Assistance

While compensation is given directly to individual crime survivors to cover things like medical costs, mental health counseling, lost wages, relocation, and funeral expenses, assistance funds are granted to organizations that serve survivors of crime. In contrast to the onerous and all-too-often unjust individual qualifications for compensation programs, assistance grants only require that organizations serve individuals who are victims of crime. An organization supported by a VOCA assistance grant would not have to turn away a potential client because of an unrelated prior conviction in that client’s record, for example.

Not only are there fewer limitations on assistance grants, there is also much more federal money currently available. The formula that the Office for Victims of Crime uses to award compensation grants is based on how much each state awarded for victims compensation in prior years.50 In practice, this has translated into VOCA compensation awards totaling around $130 million in a given year. Since any funds not spent on compensation may then be spent on assistance, the funds available for assistance grants are significantly greater—especially since the dramatic increase of the CVF spending cap in FY2015. In FY2018, only $129 million was available nationwide for VOCA state compensation grants, compared to more than $3.3 billion for VOCA state assistance grants.51

VOCA State Compensation Grants

All 50 states have compensation programs designed to provide direct reimbursement to individual crime survivors and their families.52 Most state compensation programs have similar eligibility requirements and offer comparable types of benefits.53 Through VOCA’s state crime victim compensation program, the Office for Victims of Crime uses a set mathematical formula to determine the size of award funding for these state-level programs.54

Victim compensation can play a critical role in helping to break cycles of interpersonal violence. As the World Health Organization has recognized: “In addition to physical injury, violence can lead to life-long mental and physical health problems, social and occupational impairment and increased risk of being a victim and/or perpetrator of further violence. Interventions to provide effective care and support to victims of interpersonal violence are, therefore, critical for protecting health and breaking cycles of violence from one generation to the next.55

Unfortunately, the difficulties survivors face accessing compensation programs are also well documented. In Louisiana in 2016, for example, a total of 149 people were approved for some amount of victim compensation for firearm-related cases, yet that same year, more than 580 people were shot in New Orleans alone. National data indicates that applicants for victim compensation “tend to be female, white, and between the ages of 25 and 59,”56 despite the fact that this does not align with demographic data about victims of crime—particularly victims of community violence, who are disproportionately young men of color.

In many states, racist policies have contributed to unequal access to these resources. As reported by The Trace in 2018, “[w]hile black men disproportionately experience violence, they are also more likely than whites to have been convicted of a felony, which in some states can disqualify people from receiving funds.”57  

According to reporting by the Marshall Project, at least seven states, including Florida, “bar people with a criminal record from receiving victim compensation…[and] an analysis of records in two of those states—Florida and Ohio—shows that the bans fall hardest on black victims and their families.”58 Indeed, an investigation in Ohio revealed that “among the thousands of victims in Ohio denied compensation annually, some were rejected because of criminal or drug histories, even if neither played a role in the crime that left them needing assistance.”59 The result of these policies is that family members with clean records are being denied funds to help pay for funeral expenses and other costs related to losing a loved one to a violent crime, just because the deceased person had a criminal conviction in their record.60  

At the national level, from 1993 to 2009, only nine percent of victims of serious violent crime received compensation from a victim services agency.61 This systemic racism—in the form of a criminal justice system that disproportionately arrests and convicts people of color for low-level offenses,62 combined with draconian laws that deny compensation to victims and their families based on the victim’s criminal history—makes it much more difficult for crime survivors to access services that can help interrupt devastating cycles of violence.

Gun violence prevention advocates and policymakers should seek to understand the obstacles that survivors of violent crime and their families are facing in each state and push for reforms to remove those obstacles. Additional resources are available from organizations like the Alliance for Safety and Justice, which recently supported AB 767 in California, a first-of-its-kind bill that would help “eliminate barriers to victim compensation faced by victims of police brutality and other violent crimes.”63  

VOCA State Assistance Grants

Each year, the Office for Victims of Crime also awards VOCA assistance grants to every state. These grants are in turn passed through to government agencies as well as public and private nonprofit organizations that provide services to victims of crime.64 Each state receives a baseline of $500,000 for the victim assistance program and that figure is then adjusted based on population, sometimes quite significantly, with the nation’s most populous state, California, receiving more than $260 million in 2019.65

VOCA assistance grants may be used to fund services for crime survivors that respond to their immediate emotional, psychological, and physical needs, including assisting survivors with stabilizing their lives, facilitating survivor participation in the criminal justice system, helping survivors access victim compensation, connecting them with mental health services, and working to help restore their sense of security and safety.66 Other qualifying services include peer support, relocation, legal assistance, and transitional housing.67 Many of these services touch directly on the underlying root causes of interpersonal violence.

VOCA assistance grants are awarded to state administering agencies (SAAs), which are designated by each state’s governor and therefore vary from state to state. The SAA in Virginia, for example, is the Department of Criminal Justice Services, while in California it’s the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and in New Jersey, the Office of the Attorney General.68  A directory of SAAs is maintained by the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators.69  

Federal law gives SAAs enormous discretion to decide how to award assistance grants, including discretion over which agencies and organizations will receive funding and how much each receives.70 Federal regulations require SAAs to allocate at least 10% of their victim assistance funds for grants to serve each of the following groups: (1) victims of sexual assault (2) victims of domestic abuse (3) victims of child abuse and (4) underserved victims of violent crime.71  For the purposes of the fourth category, states have discretion to choose the crime type and/or demographic characteristics of crime victims that qualify as “underserved.” In 2016, the Office for Victims of Crime gave examples of victim populations “often underserved,” including the families of homicide victims, survivors of gang violence, and victims of violent crime in high crime urban areas.72  

After the initial 40% is allocated according to the four categories laid out above, SAAs may then allocate the remaining 60% at their discretion to any entities that are eligible for funding under VOCA.73 Although there are a variety of general requirements—including being a public or nonprofit organization, serving victims of crime, and matching 20% of VOCA-provided funds, among others—essentially any public agency or nonprofit organization that provides direct services to victims of crime may be funded with VOCA assistance grants.74

The earmarking of VOCA state assistance grant funds for underserved victims of violent crime, coupled with a large increase in the spending caps in FY2015 should have translated into a significant increase in resources for organizations serving survivors of violent crime. But the unfortunate reality is that many states are leaving money on the table.

As a report by Everytown and Cities United describes, “As of February 2018, states collectively had nearly $599 million remaining of their fiscal year 2015 victim assistance allocations….As of April 2019, 12 states had failed to draw down any of their fiscal year 2017 victim assistance funds, and all states had a collective balance of 80 percent of their fiscal year 2017 victim assistance funds. If states do not spend down their annual allocation within four years, the funds are returned to the Crime Victims Fund.”75

In the past year, advocates in states including New Jersey, Virginia, and California have had success making the case for VOCA funding to be allocated to hospital-based violence intervention programs. To illustrate what this looks like in practice, the next section of this report provides a detailed look at New Jersey.

New Jersey Case Study

In 2019, New Jersey used $20 million in VOCA assistance funding to create the New Jersey Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program (NJHVIP), with the express purpose of “enhancing services to underserved victims and victims of gun violence in an effort to break the cycle of repeat victimization and save human lives.”76 Prior to this VOCA-funded expansion, New Jersey had just a single HVIP.77 With the help of VOCA funding, programs are now being implemented in eight other hospitals serving cities disproportionately impacted by gun violence.

In addition to being a remarkable achievement in terms of the sheer size and ambition of the investment, the story of NJHVIP is also a useful case study in the critical role advocates can play in unlocking VOCA funds. In the years leading up to the launch of NJHVIP, the New Jersey Chapter of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice,78 a flagship project of the Alliance for Safety and Justice,79 had been advocating for greater investment in survivor-centered approaches to addressing violent crime.

New Jersey advocates started to gain traction on these issues when, in part as a result of their work, an article was published in the New Jersey Star-Ledger on August 28, 2018, explaining the connection between victimization and future violence and underscoring the subpar support systems for violence survivors, especially in underserved communities of color—despite the existence of untapped VOCA funds.80  

“Twice the Victim,” by Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.Com

The article’s subtitle summed up the situation bluntly: “If you’ve suffered a crime, there’s state money to help. Good luck getting your hands on it.” The investigation showed the extent to which New Jersey was leaving VOCA compensation money on the table, returning nearly $400,000 in unused funds to the federal government in 2017 and failing to distribute $3.4 million of available relief for crime survivors.81

“For people who live in the inner city, often the only support they are going to get is the victims’ comp agency. That is their only chance at hope,” an advocate with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice told reporters. “It would be one thing if there was no money available, but there is money available. They don’t even spend all their money.”82

New Jersey crime survivor advocates also criticized the way that the assistance program was being managed, pointing out in the Star-Ledger article that most federal victim assistance money was going to county prosecutors’ offices, law enforcement agencies, and sexual assault and domestic violence nonprofit service providers, with “little done to support services for families of homicide victims or to organizations operating in communities of color.”83

As the Star-Ledger article helped draw public attention to these issues, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice also created an online petition requesting that the governor and the attorney general direct more VOCA funds to services for victims of gun violence. In particular, the group called for an investment of VOCA dollars in HVIPs and Trauma Recovery Centers, inspired in part by the success of a Newark-based HVIP that helped contribute to a 38% decline in homicides between 2013 and 2018.84

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal listened to the concerns of crime survivor advocates and committed to finding ways to support survivors of community violence. “We have to do more,” he said in the 2018 Star-Ledger article. “If we can get more money to more victims, that’s what we’re committed to doing. And part of that’s going to require more awareness that these pools of money are out there.”85  

In early 2019, the attorney general started to make good on this commitment by hiring Elizabeth Ruebman, a crime survivor and a leading advocate for crime victim compensation reform, to become the AG’s Special Advisor on Victims Services, with a mission to “conduct a ‘top-to-bottom’ review of New Jersey’s victim programs and services.”86 Around this same time, a variety of local, state, and national violence prevention organizations, including Giffords, began publicly advocating for the passage of a package of bills designed to support and expand community-based violence intervention and prevention programs, such as HVIPs.87   

4x
Less likely to recidivate or be reinjured
Patients who receive hospital-based violence intervention services are four times less likely to be convicted of a violent crime and four times less likely to be violently injured again.

Source

Tina L. Cheng, et al., “Effectiveness of a Mentor-Implemented, Violence Prevention Intervention for Assault-Injured Youths Presenting to the Emergency Department: Results of a Randomized Trial,” Pediatrics 122, no. 5 (2008): 938–946.

On September 24, 2019, Attorney General Grewal announced the availability of $20 million in VOCA funding to establish eight new hospital-based or hospital-linked violence intervention programs in New Jersey.88 “This initiative will advance two of our top priorities—reducing gun violence and improving services to victims,” the attorney general said. “These hospital-based violence intervention programs have shown that there is more than one way to save lives at a hospital. You can save lives by healing gunshot wounds, and you can also save lives by changing lives and turning them away from violence.”89

Governor Murphy also supported and applauded this move: “Hospital-based violence intervention programs have a proven track record of reducing gun violence and strengthening ties between public health facilities and the populations they serve,” he said at a press conference. “With today’s funding, we are taking another step to combat gun violence by tackling its root problems.”90

The official Notice of Availability and Award of Funds released by the Office of the Attorney General laid out two specific purpose areas: (1) the funding of up to nine demonstration sites implementing the HVIP strategy as a partnership between a health facility and one or more community-based organizations and (2) funding for a single, statewide training and technical assistance provider with an understanding of the “range of crime victims’ needs in both institutional and community settings,” to support the nine demonstration sites.91  

Each applicant was eligible to apply for an award of up to $2 million and another $2 million was reserved for training and technical assistance. Per federal VOCA requirements, a 20% match was required of applicants, although a match waiver could be obtained on a case-by-case basis in situations of documented need. The grant period was set at 21 months, running from January 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021. At more than $10 million of funding per year, NJHVIP represents a significant state investment in the expansion of violence intervention infrastructure.92  

Grantees were selected through a competitive process in which each applicant was evaluated on several criteria, including: (1) experience and capabilities (2) a needs assessment (3) goals, budget, and work plan (4) equitable partnership between medical facilities and community groups (5) culturally appropriate victim services (6) a plan for referrals to other programs to help meet victim needs and (7) data collection and performance measurement.93 Selections were made and awardees notified of the results before the close of 2019.

On January 29, 2020, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords joined Governor Murphy and Attorney General Grewal in Jersey City to publicly announce the awards.94 In total, eight new sites received funding to implement an HVIP in hospitals in the New Jersey cities most disproportionately impacted by gun violence. Newark was also granted funds to expand its existing program.95 The attorney general announced that the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention (the HAVI),96 a national network of HVIPs, had been selected as the state’s technical assistance provider.

Fatimah Loren Dreier, executive director of the HAVI, accurately described NJVHIP as a “monumental step” for New Jersey.97With this award, the state of New Jersey became one of the first states in the nation to invest directly in HVIPs using VOCA funding. This was also the first time in New Jersey’s history that the Garden State specifically invested in this evidence-based violence reduction strategy.

As of the writing of this report, all NJHVIP sites are engaged in a planning process, and three have begun actively providing intervention services to shooting victims and survivors of other forms of serious violence. All sites are expected to be up and running by the end of 2020, with ongoing technical assistance being provided by the HAVI.98  

New Jersey is at the forefront of a growing movement. In May 2019, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced a nearly $2.5 million investment of VOCA funds to support the implementation of HVIPs at seven Virginia hospitals.99 Other states, including Connecticut,100 California,101 Missouri,102 New York,103 and Ohio,104 have taken similar promising steps in recent years.

From left: Dr. John Rich, Fatimah Loren Dreier, Governor Murphy, and Dr. Ted Corbin.

While this report is focused on HVIPs, some states have begun supporting violence intervention strategies outside of the hospital setting as well. In New York, for example, the Office of Victim Services directed millions of dollars of VOCA funding in 2019 to support the state’s SNUG program, a street outreach strategy in which credible messengers work with a team of social workers and other providers to intervene with high-risk individuals.105 Despite these encouraging developments, there is still great need to increase the speed of this progress and a tremendous opportunity for advocates to help make that happen.

Leveraging VOCA Funding

This section covers takeaways, lessons learned, and key resources for stakeholders in states around the country. First and foremost, stakeholders should take steps to ensure that practitioners themselves are aware of and well positioned to successfully apply for VOCA assistance grants.

Raising Awareness and Building Capacity to Leverage VOCA

Many organizations that provide critical services to crime survivors in underserved areas are extremely busy doing lifesaving work and may not know about the opportunities presented by VOCA assistance grants. Other organizations focused on policy and education can help by spreading the word and directing practitioners to existing resources.

For instance, in 2018, Giffords partnered with Equal Justice USA and the Healing Justice Alliance to produce a webinar designed for managers of HVIPs.106 This 90-minute presentation, which is available for free online, lays out why HVIPs are a good fit for VOCA assistance grants and includes practitioners from Detroit talking about their experience applying for VOCA funding. The webinar also introduces an incredibly important resource for practitioners: a toolkit by Equal Justice USA called “Apply for VOCA Funding,” which gives step-by-step instructions on accessing these funds.107  

From a practitioner perspective, one of the drawbacks of VOCA is that it requires a substantial amount of time and resources to manage. A report by Everytown and Cities United recommends that practitioners look to partner with larger institutions, like city agencies, to help address this challenge.108 In addition to city agencies, larger nonprofits, universities, hospitals, and other stakeholders with developed grant application infrastructures can also play this role. In New Jersey, for example, the NJHVIP program allows a hospital or other eligible medical facility to be the “lead applicant,” which manages administrative aspects of the grant while community partners and hired staff carry out the intervention work.109

Gun violence prevention organizations in particular should take the opportunity to build relationships with nearby community-based practitioners doing lifesaving work and help connect them with resources to better understand and leverage VOCA. The HAVI maintains a membership directory of HVIPs, which is a good starting point for identifying existing programs.

Several states have started creating VOCA assistance grant programs that are specifically targeted to organizations doing violence intervention work, as was the case in New Jersey and Virginia in 2019. This is the most direct way to expand violence intervention work, since applicants don’t have to compete against all other categories of service providers as they would with a more generalized VOCA assistance solicitation.

Building Relationships with VOCA State Administering Agencies

A vital step for stakeholders interested in leveraging VOCA dollars is to identify the relevant VOCA state administering agency (SAA). The National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators has an easy-to-use directory available here.110 As mentioned above, the SAA is different in every state, and each has a unique process for awarding VOCA assistance grants.

After identifying the relevant SAA, the next step should be to conduct research to understand the VOCA assistance grant landscape within the stakeholder’s state. We recommend that advocates consult the CSJ toolkit, which provides a series of questions that will help them better understand this landscape.111 In many cases, the answers to such questions will lie with the SAA, so it is important for advocates to reach out and build relationships. To help SAA staff understand the needs of the community, it may be most effective to actually invite them to visit a program that advocates want to expand through VOCA.112  

In New Jersey, advocates built such a strong relationship with their SAA, the Office of the Attorney General, that one of the leaders of the statewide crime survivors movement was hired to join the Office as the Special Advisor on Victims Services.113 In many cases, SAAs are staffed by individuals who are committed to making a difference and who will likely be open to community input about potential ways to use VOCA assistance grants.

Making the Case to State Administering Agencies

Convincing government agencies to break from the status quo often requires both persuasion and persistence. Fortunately, there are a number of excellent resources for advocates to help make this case in a compelling manner.

First, CSJ emphasizes that “advocates should not assume that administrators fully understand the racial disparities that exist in current VOCA funding priorities. Make sure to share studies that drive home this point.”114 Next, advocates need to make the case for why strategies like HVIPs are a good use of VOCA funding. To this end, the HAVI has produced an excellent white paper designed to introduce stakeholders to the HVIP strategy.

SAA staff are often more likely to embrace an idea if it’s already been implemented in another state. Stakeholders should help their SAA staff understand that, by funding evidence-based services for victims of serious violence in underserved communities, they will be joining a larger movement of SAAs that are doing the very same thing. Everytown’s report A Fund for Healing contains helpful case studies of VOCA funds being used to support violence intervention programs in states like Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Massachusetts, Illinois, and New Jersey.115 Examples of Requests for Proposals from other states, such as the one released by New Jersey’s Office of the Attorney General to solicit applicants for NJHVIP,116 can serve as helpful templates for SAAs seeking to implement something similar for the first time. Giffords is in regular touch with many of these SAAs and is available to connect stakeholders with SAA staff who can share more about their experiences and lessons learned. 

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It’s also worth noting that Congress itself has encouraged this use of VOCA funds. Congressional appropriators stated in a committee report for FY2019 that Congress “is aware that hospital-based violence intervention has shown effective results in preventing injury  recidivism for victims of violent injury, and encourages States to consider utilizing funding provided through the Crime Victims Fund to establish or expand hospital-based intervention programs.”117 This language was specifically highlighted in the Office for Victims of Crime’s solicitation for VOCA assistance grants,118 and the office has also used its discretionary funding to support eight demonstration sites to “expand the use of hospitals and other medical facilities as an entry point to increase support for victims of crime, improve their outcomes, and prevent chances for repeat victimization.”119

In making the case to SAAs, it’s also helpful to present the context of the overall problem that needs to be addressed and how VOCA funding can be a meaningful part of the solution. In a 2018 advocacy memorandum to the governor of Virginia, Giffords attorneys outlined the toll that interpersonal gun violence takes on Virginia, a toll that falls disproportionately on communities of color. The Giffords statistics library offers a comprehensive state-by-state analysis of gun violence that may be helpful in making this case, and Giffords attorneys are available to answer questions as advocates prepare similar memos. 

If after an initial round of communication, an SAA appears unwilling or unable to act, advocates should consider longer-term options, including working to engage the media. The CSJ toolkit recommends that advocates pitch VOCA-related stories to local reporters; leverage media coverage through events linked to high-profile periods of recognition, such as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in April; and write letters to the editor and opinion pieces for publication.120  

Forming strategic partnerships with other groups or individuals may also be helpful to achieving VOCA-related advocacy goals. If a critical mass of interested stakeholders exists, forming a coalition is a powerful way to pool resources and increase influence beyond the footprint of a single organization acting alone. Giffords organizes such a coalition in California, which is focused on increasing resources for organizations doing violence intervention work, and provides updates to members on VOCA-related funding opportunities.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, during the entire advocacy process all stakeholders should strive to center the voices of crime survivors. Every effort should be made to work directly with survivors on both an individual and organizational basis to craft an advocacy agenda and to determine the way it will be presented. Letters and testimonials from crime survivors shared both in private meetings and public settings can be one of the most effective methods for convincing SAAs to try a new approach.

Reforming VOCA at the Federal Level

In addition to pushing for change at the state level, advocates should prioritize structural changes to VOCA at the federal level. As a federal statute, VOCA can be amended through the legislative process and, in fact, has been changed several times since 1984 to support victims of child abuse and terrorist attacks, and to allow for discretionary grants to private organizations.121 Changes can also be made to the federal regulations governing the implementation of VOCA, which has happened several times over the life of the program.

Giffords recommends the following policies and reforms to better position VOCA to provide services to victims of violent crime and their families.

Protect the Long-Term Sustainability of the Crime Victims Fund

The spending cap increase authorized by Congress for fiscal year 2015 represents an opportunity, but also a challenge to the sustainability of the CVF itself. Since the initial cap increase, the spending cap has fluctuated widely each year. Between FY16 and FY20, the spending cap was as high as $4.4 billion and as low as $2.5 billion. Meanwhile, revenues for the CVF have steadily declined as prosecutions against major corporations have dropped122—only 99 corporations were prosecuted for federal crimes in 2018, compared to nearly 300 in 2000.123 The overall size of CVF peaked in FY17 at $13 billion, and as of FY20 was closer to $6 billion, a more than 50% contraction.

Moreover, as a recent letter to Congress signed by 56 state and territory attorneys general pointed out, “Over the last decade, the Department of Justice has increasingly utilized deferred and non-prosecution agreements to resolve cases of corporate misconduct. These agreements bypass the traditional prosecution process and shift fines and penalties into the general treasury rather than the Fund.” In recent years, recoveries from these agreements have been significant: as much as $8 billion per year. As the attorney generals recommend in their letter to Congress, “Redirecting these deposits will provide increased funding to [CVF], which will allow for better predictability of state awards.”124  

In addition, the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators recommends that Congress create a more stable spending cap, so that states and their grantees will have a better sense of the year-over-year funding that will be available through CVF and VOCA. While such a cap is a good idea in order to maintain stability, given the enormous needs of crime victims around the country, such a cap should be set no lower than FY2017 levels of $2.5 billion.125  

Given the importance of VOCA and CVF in supporting survivors of violent crime and their families, violence prevention advocates and their allies must continue to monitor this situation and impress upon federal leaders the importance of maintaining the sustainability of the CVF, even if that means starting to support it with general fund dollars. By reprioritizing the prosecution of corporate wrongdoing, amending federal law to direct recoveries from deferred and non-prosecution agreements to the CVF, and taking the other steps outlined above, Congress and the Biden administration can help ensure the longevity of this critically important federal funding source. 

Increase the Percentage of Funding Earmarked for Underserved Crime Victims

The Office for Victims of Crime has noted that “victims of gang violence,” “victims of violent crime in high crime areas,” “victims of physical assault,” and “survivors of homicide victims,” are all often underserved.126 However, as discussed above, many states have typically not used VOCA victim assistance funds to meaningfully invest in programs that work with underserved victims of serious violence.

To address this, the Office for Victims of Crime should draft and publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, followed by a Final Rule that will increase the minimum percentage of funding allocated for services assisting underserved victims of violent crimes to at least 15 percent. Presently, SAAs are required to allocate a minimum of 10 percent of each year’s VOCA victim assistance grant to programs and projects specifically serving this population. Increasing the percentage allocated for such programs will help direct funds to community programs serving victims of gun violence.

In 2018 there was nearly $599 million in untouched VOCA victim assistance funding from the 2015 distribution, suggesting that ample funds exist to expand services for underserved crime victims without taking funds away from other types of crime survivors.

Clarify Whether VOCA Assistance Funds May Be Used to Support “Crime Prevention” Services

The line between “crime prevention” and other forms of services for crime victims is incredibly blurry. Taking HVIPs as an example, providing wraparound services for victims of violent crime is both a way to help address the trauma and needs of the individual victim and likely to help prevent future acts of violent crime. At present, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) website states that “Services such as…crime prevention activities cannot be supported with VOCA victim assistance funds.”127 As long as OVC maintains that crime prevention activities cannot be supported by VOCA assistance grants, community violence organizations will have to work to fit a square peg into a round hole by not acknowledging the preventative effects of their work, which may have the unintended consequence of discouraging such organizations from applying for VOCA assistance grants.

Moreover, this position does not appear to be in line with current federal regulations. Federal guidelines governing VOCA did explicitly include “crime prevention activities” among the list of “expressly unallowable sub-recipient costs” in 1997, and again in proposed guidelines in 2002 and 2013.128 However, in final regulations adopted in 2016 and effective as of August 8, 2016, “crime prevention activities” is no longer among the list of prohibited activities.129 Despite this, the OVC website and many state-level VOCA assistance solicitations continue to reference this now-deleted prohibition, creating ongoing confusion.130

OVC should clarify that VOCA state assistance grants may be used to fund programs that prevent crime through the provision of services to crime victims.131 To bring additional clarity to this issue and to encourage the use of VOCA funds for programs that address community violence, the Office for Victims of Crime should also add “community violence intervention programs” to the list of direct services for which VOCA victim assistance funds may be used at 28 CFR § 94.119.                       

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Byrne JAG

When Jerome Brown was just five years old, he lost his father in an armed robbery.132 Jerome’s nephew was shot and killed at age 17. Jerome’s brother was shot while assisting Jerome in his job as a bouncer at a nightclub—left permanently paralyzed by someone who was upset about his friend not getting into the club. Jerome provides regular care for his brother to this day.

Jerome himself has been shot on three separate occasions: twice during his younger years, while he was still stuck in the gang lifestyle, and then later as a violence intervention worker, when he was shot through the shoulder as he tried to stop a retaliatory shooting on the streets of Buffalo, New York.

“Gun violence has impacted my life more than anything else,” said Jerome, who is now the director of a gun violence intervention and prevention program known as 518 SNUG in Albany, New York. “I think every day about what I’ve lost that I can never get back. I can’t change it. But having gone through what I’ve gone through, I have credibility and can offer validation to guys out on the street that it’s possible to be where they are and turn things around like I did.”133

SNUG, a statewide initiative operating in 12 sites around New York with direct support from the legislature and governor, is modeled after Cure Violence, a public health approach to reducing community violence. The SNUG strategy involves identifying individuals at highest risk of engaging in violence and then building relationships with them using trained credible messengers, known as street outreach workers, who work to address risk factors, mediate potential conflicts, and steer their clients towards a different way of life.

Jerome and other outreach workers in Albany. Elijah Cancer, front right, was shot and killed while attempting to defuse a conflict in 2018.

Now in his 40s, Jerome works with young men on the streets of Albany, which reminds him of his own experience growing up in New York in the 1980s. “It used to be you couldn’t go four blocks without running into some kind of community center, a location that provided mentoring and positive opportunities,” Jerome said. “During the Reagan years, the funding for those things dried up, and suddenly there were no sources of positive influence if you didn’t already have that at home. The only thing left to encourage you was the drug dealers and the gangbangers. Then you had the introduction of crack cocaine in the neighborhoods and you know how that story goes.”134  

What turned things around for Jerome was the simple but powerful revelation that other options existed. “If I had a mentor as a teenager, it could have changed things,” Jerome said. “I see that with the guys we work with now. A lot of times, when we help to mediate a conflict, that’s the first time people have experienced positive support—they didn’t even know it was possible. Just knowing that it’s possible makes all the difference in the world.”135

As a gang member, Jerome was often the voice of reason, preventing shootings, calming down angry friends, and stopping conflicts from escalating. When he learned from his cousin about SNUG’s work in Buffalo, he immediately showed up to volunteer. “That’s when I found my calling and my purpose,” he recalled. Jerome eventually took a full-time position as a street outreach worker in June 2014, two years after being released from prison. He has since worked his way up to being a site manager in Buffalo and now in Albany, and is a master trainer for the state.

Jerome’s story is deeply inspiring, but not uncommon at SNUG, where 65–70% of the paid staff are formerly incarcerated individuals who draw on their personal experiences to help put clients on a different path.136 The work that SNUG is doing isn’t police work, but from Jerome’s perspective, is just as essential to creating safe communities. Where traditional policing is typically reactive in nature, responding only once a violent crime has already been committed, SNUG presents an approach to public safety that’s preventative.

Jerome’s SNUG team doubled in size from four frontline workers to eight by November 2018. By the end of 2019, the impact of their work was apparent: injury shootings in the target area had dropped by nearly 25% from 2018 levels. “If you think about the cost of a single homicide being around $400,000 and the fact that a small SNUG site costs just $300,000 per year to operate, we only have to prevent a single homicide to pay for ourselves,” said Jerome. “And we know we’re preventing much more than one shooting each year.”137  

Indeed, a number of evaluations demonstrate that SNUG and similar public health strategies have helped lower shootings in neighborhoods in New York and around the country.138 After several years of investing in the expansion of SNUG and similar gun violence reduction strategies, New York State’s gun homicide rate—already very low by US standards—has declined significantly since 2010139 as the overall US homicide rate has been increasing. 140

Jerome sees daily how SNUG complements and enhances law enforcement efforts to improve public safety. “Working together was a hard sell for both sides,” he admits, “but we have very clear limitations on how we cooperate, and information only flows in one direction…Without us, the police have to just wait around for a shooting to happen before taking action. With SNUG there are more options on the table.”141

SNUG’s expansion in New York was funded in part through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne JAG), the federal government’s leading source of support to states and localities to assist them in addressing crime. While Byrne JAG has largely supported “traditional” law enforcement-related needs such as increasing prosecutions, purchasing equipment, and implementing drug task forces, there is ample room within the program to support alternative, community-centric strategies like SNUG. It will take intentional advocacy at the local, state, and national levels to help move Byrne JAG in a better direction—one in which communities are made safer without relying on heavy-handed law enforcement tactics.142     

Byrne JAG Origins

For decades, the US federal government largely left issues of crime control to local and state authorities. As crime levels began to increase in the 1970s and 1980s,143 Congress created several new funding streams designed to support state and local crime-fighting efforts, primarily through investing in law enforcement and later, the “war on drugs.”144

Two of the most prominent funding programs were the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant and the Edward Byrne Memorial Formula Grant.145 Both directed federal funding to local and state jurisdictions based on mathematical formulas connected to population size and the proportion of violent crimes in a given jurisdiction. Between the two programs, there were nearly 30 different categories for which local and state grantees could use this funding, ranging from hiring and training personnel to purchasing equipment and making technology improvements.

In 2005, Congress attempted to streamline this grant system by combining these programs into the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne JAG), and consolidating the number of purpose areas from 30 down to the following eight: (1) law enforcement (2) prosecution and courts (3) prevention and education (4) corrections and community corrections (5) drug treatment and enforcement (6) planning, evaluation, and technology improvement (7) crime victim and witness (other than compensation) and (8) mental health, including behavioral programs and crisis intervention teams.146

Federal law states that Byrne JAG funding is for use “by the State or unit of local government to provide additional personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, training, technical assistance, and information systems for criminal justice” including for any one or more of the eight primary purpose areas.147 It’s important to note that “criminal justice” is broadly defined by federal statute as not just the enforcement of criminal laws, but also “activities pertaining to crime prevention,” including, but not limited to, “programs relating to the prevention, control, or reduction of narcotic addiction and juvenile delinquency.”148  

Congress purposefully was not very prescriptive about how Byrne JAG funding may be used,149 which creates an opportunity for stakeholders who support a more community-centric approach to crime reduction. As a recent report from the Center for American Progress notes, “beyond these headings, there is virtually no guidance for how JAG dollars can and should be spent. Jurisdictions can and have used JAG to advance evidence-based approaches to public safety and justice reform, but providing maximum flexibility to states more often results in the perpetuation of existing structures over systemic change.”150

Byrne JAG Overview

Funding for Byrne JAG fluctuates each year, averaging $461 million per fiscal year since Congress started appropriating funding for the program in FY2005. Money is distributed directly to state and local governments using a mathematical formula based half on population size and half on levels of violent crime per the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. The Byrne JAG formula directs 60% of a given state’s award to the state itself, with the other 40% reserved for local governments, such as cities.151

Byrne JAG grants are one-time awards that are generally given for a four-year period. For a grant made on October 1, 2020, funds would be available, unless spent, until September 30, 2024. In federal fiscal year 2019, there was $263.8 million available through Byrne JAG (approximately $181.1 million to states and territories and $82.7 million to local units of government) and more than 1,100 local jurisdictions and 56 states and territories eligible for funding.152  

The governor of each state designates a state administering agency (SAA) to both apply for and administer Byrne JAG funding. The SAA is different in each state: in California, for example, the Byrne JAG SAA is the Board of State and Community Corrections,153 while in Virginia, it’s the Department of Criminal Justice Services.154 Although SAAs are often agencies with a law enforcement function, this doesn’t have to be the case: in Washington State, the SAA is the Department of Commerce.155

Each year, the Bureau of Justice Assistance releases a Byrne JAG solicitation, to which eligible state and local units of government respond in order to demonstrate their eligibility to receive funds. The most recent state solicitation, for example, requires SAAs to submit a program narrative that describes the crime issues facing the state, the SAA’s crime reduction strategy, and an overview of the specific programs that will be implemented with Byrne JAG funding.156  

Applicants must also describe their process for “engaging stakeholders from across the justice continuum and how that input informs priorities” with an emphasis on “how local communities are engaged in the planning process.”157 Finally, applicants are required to include a detailed budget proposal, document all anticipated costs, and a plan for gathering and analyzing “specific performance data that demonstrate the results of the work carried out.”158

State and local recipients of Byrne JAG funding have the option of passing resources through to subrecipients. Although the program is considered a resource for law enforcement, it’s critical to note that subrecipients may include community-based organizations or other non-law enforcement entities that work to improve public safety.159 For example, New York’s SAA directed Byrne JAG funding to SNUG, a statewide street outreach program, by using Byrne JAG funds to hire SNUG’s statewide director and its statewide training director.160 In 2019, Virginia’s SAA released a solicitation to Byrne JAG subrecipients that specifically called for organizations to implement “evidence-based programs aimed at reducing gun violence in a targeted community.”161

However, these examples are relatively rare exceptions to the way Byrne JAG funding has been used to date. Byrne JAG funding has disproportionately supported the hiring of law enforcement personnel to engage in suppression and corrections activities, such as drug and gang task forces, with dubious results, while community-based crime prevention strategies have received very little support.

Byrne JAG presents “one of the best opportunities to align law enforcement tactics to the twin 21st-century criminal justice goals of reducing crime and unnecessary incarceration,” wrote Jim Bueermann, former president of the Police Foundation and Senior Fellow at the George Mason Center for Evidence-based Crime Policy. “Unfortunately, the way the grant money…is distributed no longer reflects modern policing needs and initiatives.”162

Indeed, data from the National Criminal Justice Association reveals an enormous disparity: in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, nearly 65% of Byrne JAG funds were used to support law enforcement and corrections functions, while only 6% of funds were directed to crime prevention programs.163 A Bureau of Justice Assistance report from 2018 showed that Byrne JAG funding had been used to at least partially cover the salaries of 263,188 law enforcement and 549,8119 crime labs/forensic personnel—but only 45 behavioral health and 122 crime prevention personnel.164 An analysis by the Center for American Progress revealed that in 22 states, crime prevention efforts were completely unfunded by Byrne JAG, while in 14 states, $9 out of every $10 of Byrne JAG funding went to law enforcement functions.165  

In 2010, advocates in California were able to push their SAA to allocate a far greater percentage of Byrne JAG resources to prevention-oriented and community-centric strategies such as drug treatment and reentry services, capitalizing on a large bump in funding in 2009.166 A report by the Drug Policy Alliance, which spearheaded this effort, found that this redirection of investment away from traditional law enforcement approaches would improve public safety outcomes and reduce mass incarceration, while also saving taxpayers money.

“If directed to [drug] task forces, the $115 million in 2009-10 Byrne Grants would have been likely to result in 74,500 arrests and $1.5 billion in new state costs,” the report found.167 “In contrast, based on previous analyses, the $115 million investment in treatment, probation and re-entry is expected to reduce state costs by over $330 million.”168 Indeed, in the years following this shift in policy, felony drug arrests in California declined dramatically,169 while rates of homicide dropped nearly 10% from 2010 to 2018, while increasing by the same amount nationally.170  

The majority of Byrne JAG funds have not flowed to strategies backed by strong evidence. The Government Accountability Office concluded that the program’s “performance measures do not consistently exhibit key attributes of successful performance measurement systems, such as clarity, reliability, linkage, objectivity, and measurable targets.”171 In reviewing this analysis, the Justice Policy Institute found that “the impact of increased funding through these grants is unclear and benchmarks for assessment are absent. This information is consistent with past reports that showed the Byrne JAG Program did not produce significant public safety outcomes.”172  

As a result, major indicators of public safety have remained essentially frozen in place for many years. When Byrne JAG was first consolidated into its current form by Congress in 2005, the US suffered 18,124 homicides.173 In 2018, that number stood at 18,830, with the overall homicide rate only slightly lower than 2005.174 While major structural reform is badly needed, advocates can help move the needle within the existing Byrne JAG framework to push investments in a more balanced and more effective direction.  

Virginia Case Study

In 2019, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV) successfully advocated for the creation of a community-specific Byrne JAG solicitation in Virginia. For Lori Haas, the senior director of advocacy at EFSGV, the experience highlights the importance of long-term relationship-building. Lori has been a leading figure in the gun violence prevention movement ever since her daughter was shot twice—thankfully surviving—in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.175 She started her advocacy work in Richmond the same year that now-governor Ralph Northam was entering the Virginia legislature as a freshman state senator from a rural district.

At the time, many Virginia legislators were skeptical of embracing gun safety laws and policies, fearful of upsetting gun owners. Senator Northam was different. “I walked into his office and talked to him about the need for universal background checks for gun purchases,” Lori recounted.176 “He looked at me and said, ‘That sounds like a really reasonable idea, tell me more.’ Since that moment, we’ve just had an excellent working relationship. Those long-term relationships of trust make all the difference in this work.”177

When Northam was elected governor of Virginia in 2017, EFSGV was in an excellent position to give input on gun violence prevention policy. “We’d been engaging in disproportionately impacted communities of color since 2013, when we hired our Director of African-American and Community Outreach, Kayla Hicks,” said Lori. “I talked to Governor Northam and his staff about the need to do more than pass gun safety legislation—we also emphasized the need to invest directly in community-based prevention and intervention programs.”178

EFSGV prepared a memorandum for the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the Commonwealth’s Byrne JAG state administering agency, outlining how other states had used Byrne JAG funding to support community-based public safety strategies.179 “Everyone doing this work has to remember, state agencies are often new to some of these issues,” Lori said. “They are actively looking for input and you have to be ready to knock on the door and offer them support. That’s what we did with DCJS, and they welcomed our input.”180

On July 8, 2019, Governor Northam announced the availability of Byrne JAG funding to support community-based violence intervention programs, through a solicitation released by DCJS.181 “We know that in most communities, it is a small number of people that contribute to the vast majority of violent crime,” said Governor Northam. These grants will help provide localities with the resources to identify these at-risk individuals and get them off the path to violence.”182  After the release of this solicitation, EFSGV worked with local partners to educate them about the opportunity for additional funding.

Researchers, criminal justice stakeholders, gun violence prevention advocates, and community members meet to build out the CERV in Hampton in July 2017.

One such partner was the community of Hampton, where EFSGV had recently worked with an array of local stakeholders to launch an initiative known as Community Empowerment to Reduce Violence (CERV). EFSGV partnered in 2017 with Hampton Police Division Assistant Chief Orrin Gallop, who had been focused on developing gun violence reduction initiatives other than strictly enforcement. With EFSGV as the umbrella for the partnerships and many stakeholders, CERV was refined over time into its current form as a comprehensive, community-based violence prevention initiative that “brings together criminal justice stakeholders, law enforcement, and individuals impacted by daily gun violence to identify the risk factors that drive gun violence in Hampton and develop strategies to address these factors.”183

EFSGV worked with its local partners, including the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office of Hampton, with input and assistance from researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, to draft a proposal to use Byrne JAG funding to build out one of the cornerstones of CERV: a violent crime review. Based on the successful homicide review commission strategy developed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,184 the goal of the violent crime review is to bring together both law enforcement and community stakeholders to “share their knowledge of violent gun crimes in Hampton and to develop prevention and intervention strategies using strategic problem analysis.”185 As Giffords Law Center’s in-depth case study of violence reduction work in Oakland found, a comprehensive problem analysis is one of the foundations of successful efforts to address community violence.186  

On October 10, 2019, Governor Northam announced the award of Byrne JAG funding to a variety of initiatives, including $142,000 to the Hampton Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.187 With a matching contribution from the City of Hampton of $50,000 to support CERV—which resulted from a stakeholder meeting facilitated by EFSGV—local and federal funds totaling nearly $200,000 were made available for the rest of 2019 and beyond specifically to address community violence using an evidence-based and community-informed strategy.188  

Like most of the country, Virginia still has much room for improvement: only two community-centric strategies were funded in 2019. Given that Byrne JAG is likely to be part of the criminal justice landscape for the foreseeable future, EFSGV’s work in Virginia gives advocates a roadmap for how to work with the system as it currently exists.

Leveraging Byrne JAG Funding

Below are several important takeaways for practitioners, advocates, and other stakeholders who want to see Byrne JAG funding directed away from unfocused, heavy-handed suppression and incarceration approaches, and towards evidence-based strategies that incorporate genuine community partnership.

Support Strategies that Incorporate Genuine Community Partnership

When it comes to addressing violent crime, there is increasing evidence that effective strategies focus on intervening with those at the highest risk of engaging in violence using a range of both community-based interventions and focused law enforcement actions.189 Advocates and stakeholders should familiarize themselves with the growing body of literature around what works to address community violence, and take steps to push for Byrne JAG funding to support evidence-informed strategies such as focused deterrence, cognitive behavioral therapy, street outreach, shooting reviews, and hospital-based violence intervention programs.190  

One of the key elements of these strategies is genuine community partnership.191 “We cannot simply arrest our way out of the problem” is now a common refrain from police leaders and politicians around the nation,192 yet Byrne JAG funding has not been aligned with this understanding. For example, data from the National Criminal Justice Association showed that, in 2016, more than 25% of all Byrne JAG funds were used to operate multi-jurisdictional drug and gang task forces,193 which have increased greatly in number over the last 15 years. However, evaluations over time have not established the efficacy of such task forces.194 One national study from 2009 found that “not only were data insufficient to estimate what task forces accomplished, data were inadequate to even tell what the task forces did as routine work… Federal grants were awarded without even the rudiments of performance monitoring.”195  

The statutory language of Byrne JAG explicitly allows funds to support purpose areas including “crime prevention and education,” “drug treatment,” “mental health,” and “crime victim” programs.196 While nonprofit agencies cannot directly apply for Byrne JAG, state and local government applicants may partner with community-based organizations and pass funds through to them as subrecipients.

In San Francisco, for example, a county Byrne JAG recipient partnered with The Beacon Center, a local nonprofit organization specializing in youth development, to implement the Juvenile Alternatives to Suspension Program, which was designed to “disrupt the school to prison pipeline” by providing at-risk youth with case management, behavioral support, and mentoring services.197 Byrne JAG funding was passed through to The Beacon Center to help fully implement the program, which included hiring new staff to serve as program coordinators.

Focus Advocacy Efforts on State Administering Agencies and Local Recipients

Even though Byrne JAG is a federal grant program, all of the key decisions about how funds are allocated are made at the state and local levels. By statute, local and state agencies must develop funding proposals that include public input,198 which means the Byrne JAG funding process can and should be influenced by community advocates and stakeholders.

Advocates should first identify their SAA and then seek to build relationships and make the case for redirecting Byrne JAG resources to community-oriented strategies.199 The National Criminal Justice Association keeps a list of SAAs, including contact information, on its website.200 A list of the most recent state and local Byrne JAG funding allocations is available on the Bureau of Justice Assistance website.201  

Advocates around the country should seek to understand how Byrne JAG funds are being invested in their jurisdiction, and then organize to influence their state’s strategic planning process. This includes identifying all key decision makers in their jurisdiction. In California, for example, the Board of State and Community Corrections is the Byrne JAG SAA and funding recommendations are made by an Executive Steering Committee, which includes a mental health services expert, a juvenile justice advocate, and a public defender.202 In making its recommendations, the Executive Steering Committee takes public comment, which presents an opportunity for advocates to make the case for redirecting funding.203 Advocates should seek to give input to committees like these, and also to actually join such decision-making bodies.

Finally, advocates and other stakeholders should strive to identify the makeup of decision makers in their jurisdiction and determine if there is a need for more community voices at the table. If police chiefs and prosecutors are the only stakeholders making decisions about Byrne JAG funding, strategies outside of traditional law enforcement are less likely to be funded. Advocates should push for the inclusion of diverse voices, including service providers, formerly incarcerated individuals, young people, and crime survivors.   

Between the state awards that generally trickle down to the local level and grants that are made directly to local governments, in many cities there will be potentially millions of dollars on the table that can be directed to more effective, community-centric crime prevention strategies.204 Advocates can help create both awareness and the political will to pursue this kind of change. Given the national outcry over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the calls to reimagine the criminal justice system, this is the perfect time and opportunity to push for a redirection of federal criminal justice grants at the state and local levels.

Reforming Byrne JAG at the Federal Level

For far too long, Byrne JAG has operated as a kind of no-strings-attached check for law enforcement agencies. The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially relevant here. As is true with America’s healthcare system,205 our criminal justice system will never achieve its goals if it only responds to crime after the fact.206 While state and community level advocates work to shift local Byrne JAG funding decisions, national advocates should simultaneously push for major structural reforms that will help bring the program in line with best practices and reverse the one-sided investment in punitive law enforcement strategies.

Create Minimum Spending Amounts for Strategies Other Than Suppression

As currently structured, Byrne JAG sets out eight primary purpose areas, but does not require recipients to direct minimum amounts to any of them. While local flexibility is an important principle, balance is also crucial, and it’s clear that prioritizing flexibility is contributing to the maintenance of the status quo.

The Center for American Progress, the Urban Institute, and others have called for “requiring states to devote substantial percentages of JAG funds to areas besides law enforcement in order to ensure a comprehensive approach to public safety.”207 Setting a minimum level of investment in complementary strategies would signal a strong intent to bring Byrne JAG funding into line with a modern understanding of how best to address crime without harming communities through over-incarceration.

Byrne JAG should be restructured to create a distinction between suppression and non-suppression strategies, clarifying that “suppression” strategies are those with the goal of arresting and incarcerating offenders. The program should require, at both the state and local levels, a significant investment in strategies other than efforts to arrest and imprison offenders.

Incentivize Community Input and Partnership

Byrne JAG should also be reformed to encourage more fulsome community participation in both the funding process and program implementation. To help foster meaningful community participation in the funding process, Title 34, section 10153(a)(3)(B) of the US Code should be amended to unambiguously require that citizens and community-based organizations be given an opportunity to comment on their district’s Byrne JAG application.208  

In addition, section 10153(a)(6)(A) should be amended to include community members, community-based organizations, survivors of crime, and formerly incarcerated individuals among the stakeholders that applicants must consult with when creating comprehensive statewide plans for how to allocate Byrne JAG resources.209 Including such voices is essential. As a report from the Alliance for Safety and Justice states with respect to crime survivors, “There has never been a more important time to investigate and elevate the perspectives of those most commonly victimized by violence and crime. If new approaches to safety and justice do not incorporate the voices of crime survivors, this new era of reform risks failing to deliver on the breakthrough the country needs.210

State Byrne JAG applicants should also be required to certify that a process is in place to consult one or more community-based organizations and/or community members as a prerequisite for receiving Byrne JAG funding.211 California, for example, would be able to meet this requirement due to its state law requiring that its Byrne JAG SAA decision-making committee include a community provider of “rehabilitative treatment,” a provider or advocate with experience in effective youth-oriented services, and a member of the general public.212  

Finally, to encourage meaningful community partnerships in implementing Byrne JAG-funded programs, applicants should be required to certify that they will pass through a significant percentage of funds to community-based nonprofit organizations operating within their jurisdiction. This pass-through requirement would both bolster resources for strategies that are critical complements to law enforcement efforts,213and incentivize the kind of police-community collaboration that is essential to crime reduction. Additionally, Byrne JAG applicants should be required to describe their plan to partner with one or more community organizations in implementing their crime reduction strategy. 

Facilitate Increased Transparency and Accountability

One of the principal problems with the current Byrne JAG structure is its lack of transparency and accountability, an issue that a variety of organizations and stakeholders from across the ideological spectrum have pointed out in recent years.214 While it is possible to determine how much Byrne JAG funding state and local grantees are receiving, it is extremely difficult to determine how those dollars are actually being used, particularly at the local level.

This is particularly problematic given that local grants constitute 40% of the overall program. Moreover, even though the National Criminal Justice Association does track state-level Byrne JAG data, the most recent publicly available information is from 2016, and even that has some significant gaps: data about California, the nation’s largest state, is unavailable.215 In response to criticism,216  BJA published an interactive map making it easy for users to see how much money a state has been awarded, and more importantly, a breakdown of how the money was invested; however, this data has not been updated since 2014.217

To address this lack of transparency, DOJ should be required by statute to publish Byrne JAG spending details annually on its website, along with information about the specific criminal justice goals grantees are intending to achieve. It’s not enough for the public to simply know how much is being invested—in order to provide true transparency, the public should be able to access exactly how dollars are being used and for what purpose. The BJA maps, although discontinued, provide an example of what this could look like in practice.

Over the years, various organizations have criticized Byrne JAG for using performance measures that are not tied to ultimate outcomes—for example, using increased drug arrests as evidence of the “success” of Byrne JAG-funded drug task forces.218 As former Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann has written, statistics like the total number of arrests or volume of drugs seized, “don’t effectively measure whether a law enforcement agency has reduced crime and improved public safety…Numbers-based policing isn’t bad policy. But it’s important that the right numbers are being used.”219

Indeed, the premise that more arrests—particularly for lower-level offenses—leads to more public safety is an unfounded assumption that has been widely disputed in recent years.220 A comprehensive study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that “the available program evaluations suggest that aggressive, misdemeanor arrest–based approaches to control disorder generate small to null impacts on crime.”221 Yet, too often, arrest numbers have been held up as evidence of “success” of Byrne JAG-funded initiatives.222

To achieve true accountability, grantees should identify the specific crime problem they are trying to solve and then measure impact on that issue. While DOJ made changes to its performance measurement system in 2016 to focus more on meaningful outcomes and less on metrics like raw arrest numbers and amounts of narcotics seized,223 simply changing the data being requested by DOJ is at best a partial fix in a system where “as many as 30 percent of JAG recipients do not submit regular reports to the DOJ.”224 The Byrne JAG authorizing statutes should be amended to make performance reporting a basic eligibility requirement, give DOJ authorization to deny funding when applicants are not in compliance, and carve out additional resources for the express purpose of supporting results-oriented performance evaluation.

Focus Byrne JAG Funding to Maximize Impact

At least part of the accountability problem discussed above stems from the sheer number of grants that are distributed under Byrne JAG.225 More than 1,000 grants are given out each year, often in very small amounts that are unlikely to significantly impact crime levels. Analysis by the Center for American Progress showed that, in FY2016, nearly 45% of overall Byrne JAG funds were allocated to 450 grants valued at less than $25,000 each.226 A grant of $25,000 is extremely unlikely to move the needle even in small jurisdictions, and yet a large number of Byrne JAG grants are allocated in this highly diluted manner.

This makes little sense in a nation where serious violent crime is highly concentrated. In 2015, half of the nation’s gun homicides occurred in just 127 cities and towns.227 An analysis by the Vera Institute showed that half of the aggregate increase in US homicide counts from 2014 to 2015 resulted from homicide spikes in just three cities: Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington DC.228   

To address this, Congress should set a minimum funding amount, and focus funding on areas with disproportionately high levels of serious violent crime. This would align Byrne JAG with findings from the field of criminology that crime tends to cluster in specific areas and is not evenly spread around jurisdictions, and would greatly increase the impact of this funding stream.229 As a secondary benefit, this shift would make it easier to measure grant performance and increase transparency in how taxpayer dollars are being used to promote public safety.

Ensure Byrne JAG Funding Is Available for All Communities That Need It

In recent years, several of the states inclined to pursue a more balanced approach to public safety—including California, Illinois, and New York—have been cut off from receiving Byrne JAG funding because of immigration-related conditions placed on the program by the Trump administration. In 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that attempted to make access to certain federal grants, including Byrne JAG, contingent upon cooperation with immigration enforcement authorities.230 Later that year, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced two new conditions for Byrne JAG funding that essentially required state authorities to allow federal immigration agents access to “suspected” undocumented immigrants in state custody and to provide notification when those individuals were scheduled to be released from custody.231  

This was viewed by many as an effort to punish sanctuary jurisdictions by placing immigration-related conditions on federal funding for public safety efforts.232 States like California, Illinois, and New York were suddenly forced to choose between losing access to public safety funding and pursuing immigration policies that may have actually jeopardized public safety in their jurisdictions. The City of Los Angeles, for example, has a policy against cooperating with federal immigration enforcement on the grounds that “being perceived as a ‘cooperating’ jurisdiction in the view of the [Trump] Administration would harm public safety in Los Angeles” because it would have a negative impact on police relationships with immigrant communities.233  

As a result, New York was forced to suspend Byrne JAG support for the state’s SNUG initiative in 2017 and replace it with another funding stream that could have been used to expand other activities to enhance public safety.234 Moreover, the immigration restrictions caused a disruption in Byrne JAG funding that affected all states, regardless of their immigration policies, in a manner that drew strong criticism from a bipartisan group of US senators.235 In a letter, federal lawmakers argued that these conditions represented “an unwarranted, coercive effort to leverage communities’ longstanding reliance on Byrne-JAG funds in furtherance of the Trump Administration’s mass-deportation agenda.”236  

In facing this public safety catch-22, several jurisdictions responded with lawsuits challenging the authority of DOJ to issue immigration-related requirements on Byrne JAG funding. “Placing immigration-related conditions on funding for law enforcement is unlawful and jeopardizes public safety,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. “We are…sending a message to the federal government that we will not allow important funding to be used as a tool to push illegal and discriminatory immigration policies.”237 Lawsuits were also brought by the City of Los Angeles238 and a coalition of states including Virginia, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Washington, among others.239  

Although some litigation is still pending, several federal district courts and courts of appeal have ruled that the DOJ lacks statutory authority to place immigration-related restrictions on Byrne JAG funding, and a number of courts issued orders compelling the attorney general to distribute withheld Byrne JAG Program funds.240 While that is good news, the costly cycle of funding disruption and litigation should never have happened in the first place. To the extent conditions are placed on Byrne JAG funds in the future, they should comply with federal law and be directly related to public safety.

OUR STORIES

We’re youth activists, survivors, doctors, and gun owners. We’re united in the fight to end gun violence. 

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Project Safe Neighborhoods

In 2000, Juma Sampson, a 21-year-old native of Rochester, New York, was arrested at a park for selling 50 grams of crack cocaine—about the weight of a golf ball—to an undercover police officer.241 A subsequent search of the home where Juma was living also revealed a firearm.242

Juma had previously been convicted and sentenced on drug charges as a high school senior and as a result, was prohibited from possessing a gun. The recovery of a gun in his home made him eligible for aggressive federal prosecution under the City of Rochester’s new anti-violence program, Project Exile.

The Project Exile strategy—first developed in Richmond, Virginia in 1996—seeks to deter gun violence by transferring gun possession cases like Juma’s from state to federal court,243 where defendants are more likely to face harsh mandatory minimum sentences and less likely to receive pretrial bail.244 As an added deterrent, people convicted under Project Exile can also be incarcerated in far-off federal prisons, isolated from their friends, families, and community—hence the term “exile.”

Juma was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 25 years in federal prison under Rochester’s Project Exile program.245 “You can kill somebody here and get less time than my baby got,” Juma’s mother told FiveThirtyEight. “This boy got 25 years for what?”246  

In 2019, Sampson’s 25-year sentence was reduced to time served and eight years of supervised release.247 Today, Juma is an author, publisher, and activist. He considers himself a survivor of the Project Exile program and speaks to its deleterious and disparate impact on the Black community in Rochester. On the local news, Sampson remarked, “I often ask, why would the government rather spend nearly $700,000 of taxpayers’ money on keeping me incarcerated, as opposed to spending a tiny portion of that on educating me and giving me a fair opportunity to become a productive member of society? I still haven’t found the answer.”248  

When President George W. Bush launched Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a national initiative to reduce serious violence, in 2001, he cited Project Exile as one of two programs that inspired it. PSN is a nationwide grant program designed to “create and foster safer neighborhoods through a sustained reduction in violent crime.”249 PSN is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), an office within the US Department of Justice. Each of the country’s 94 federal judicial districts is eligible to apply for PSN awards based on a formula that takes into account population and violent crime rate.250

When PSN was first launched, it was funded at more than $550 million over its first two years, but today it is a far more modest program.251 From 2018 to 2020, Congress funded PSN at $20 million annually. In FY2019, individual PSN awards ranged from a high of $900,000 in the Central District of California, to a low of just $67,000 in the District of Vermont.252  

PSN directs funds to US attorneys and PSN teams (also known as PSN task forces) in each of the country’s 94 federal judicial districts to “identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.”253 PSN gives local grant recipients a great deal of discretion in determining exactly what solutions to implement. Because of the wide range of anti-violence efforts it has funded, PSN has earned both praise254 and scorn255 from across the political spectrum.

For years, PSN has in large part been used to support harsh suppression efforts like Project Exile.256 Proponents claim that it focuses on the most violent offenders, but in cities across the country, nonviolent offenders like Juma Sampson have been caught in Exile’s wake.257 Such enhanced prosecution strategies take a disproportionate toll on communities of color while their impact on violent crime is, at best, uncertain.258  

One clear national policy change resulting from PSN was the astronomical increase in federal gun possession prosecutions in the early 2000s, which did not correspond with lowered national rates of gun homicide. After almost two decades, US gun homicide rates are higher than they were in 2001, when PSN was first introduced.259 This is a far cry from success, especially considering PSN is the only federal program that directly addresses gun homicides and shootings.

Because of its flexibility, PSN can be and has been used to support more evidence-based and community-centric strategies such as Oakland’s Operation Ceasefire, which contributed to a nearly 50% decline in homicides and shootings between 2012 and 2018.

Project Safe Neighborhoods Origins

PSN was launched in May 2001 by President George W. Bush with the explicit goal of reducing gun violence nationwide. The program was intended to develop “unprecedented partnerships” between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and promote interagency accountability.260 Inspiration for PSN came from two local efforts to reduce violence that had received national attention in the 1990s: Project Exile in Richmond, Virginia, and Operation Ceasefire in Boston, Massachusetts. At the time, both programs appeared to achieve impressive results,261 and through PSN, the administration hoped to duplicate their success across the country. Understanding PSN requires familiarity with these two very different violence reduction strategies.

Project Exile

Project Exile was launched in Richmond, Virginia, in 1997 by the US Attorney’s Office. The program targeted felons who were found in possession of a firearm,262 and was “based on the principle that, if police catch a criminal in Richmond with a gun, the criminal has forfeited his or her right to remain in the community and, as such, will face immediate Federal prosecution and stiff mandatory Federal prison sentences.”263 It didn’t matter if the individual in question had actually used the firearm to commit an act of violence. Nor was there consideration of the fact that America’s failed war on drugs had left huge numbers of people—disproportionately people of color—with non-violent criminal records that would bar them from possessing a firearm.264    

BLACK AMERICANS ARE AT HIGHER RISK OF GUN HOMICIDE

Gun homicides and assaults disproportionately impact historically underserved communities of color. Black Americans are 10 times more likely than white Americans to be murdered with a gun.

Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed June 24, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations were based on five years of the most recently available data: 2014 to 2018.

Project Exile was based on two extremely tenuous assumptions: first, that individuals committing acts of gun violence would know and care about differences in sentencing guidelines between federal and state court. The second was that by targeting illegal gun possession, law enforcement officials could impact rates of gun violence. It’s noteworthy that Project Exile made no effort to target individuals who had actually committed acts of violence.265 The program was not about increasing homicide solve rates or prosecutions of nonfatal shootings, despite the fact that inability to bring justice to those who commit acts of serious violence contributes to cycles of retaliatory violence.266 Project Exile instead assumed that a person with a prior felony who also possessed a firearm was a high-risk person, and the more such individuals who went to federal prison, the better. 

At the time, the program sounded good, both to politicians and the general public. “The public, a large majority of whom said they supported tough sentences for felons who committed crimes with guns, could feel reassured that those who did were being punished harshly,” wrote Carl Bialik in FiveThirtyEight. “Gun control advocates saw it as a way to protect communities from people carrying or using guns illegally. Gun rights advocates liked that it enforced the laws on the books, rather than created new ones—still a refrain of the National Rifle Association.”267

Moreover, Project Exile seemed to actually work, at least at first blush: gun homicides in Richmond dropped 40% after the initiative’s first year.268 In 2003, however, a first-of-its-kind study rigorously examined the impact of Project Exile and challenged the idea that it was responsible for this decline. “The impressive declines in gun homicide rates in Richmond around the time of Project Exile can be almost entirely explained by the fact that the city had unusually large increases in gun homicides through the mid-1990s, and that cities with larger-than-average increases in gun homicide rates subsequently experience unusually large declines,” researchers concluded.269 Their statistical models predicted that “Richmond would have experienced an even larger proportional decline in homicide without Project Exile.”270  

Moreover, Project Exile disproportionately affected communities of color. Data from a public defender in Richmond showed that between 2005 and 2007, “87 percent of defendants in certain types of federal gun cases—many of them Exile cases—were African-American.” Only 50% of Richmond’s population is Black.271  

Project Exile was ultimately phased out in Richmond, but unfortunately, the strategy was being simultaneously ramped up in other communities with the help of PSN dollars. Rochester, New York, where Juma Sampson received his devastating 25-year sentence, has had the nation’s longest running replication of Project Exile, in place for nearly two decades.

During this time, “judges have handed out 633 sentences for a total of 3,411 years in federal prison…Yet in Rochester, like everywhere else, no one knows whether Exile works,” Bialik wrote in FiveThirtyEight.272  To date, there are no independent formal evaluations of Project Exile in Rochester, and violent crime in the city continues to fluctuate. In 2019, there were 33 homicides and as recently as 2016 the city suffered 44—just two fewer than the year Project Exile was launched.273   

Operation Ceasefire and Group Violence Intervention

Operation Ceasefire, now more commonly referred to as Group Violence Intervention (GVI), aims to prevent gun violence by bringing together a partnership of community members, social service providers, and law enforcement officials to focus narrowly on those at highest risk for being shot or pulling the trigger. GVI partners begin their work not with an assumption that all people who illegally carry a gun are dangerous, but rather with an extensive review of violent incidents and trends, known as a problem analysis.274 The GVI strategy is premised on the crucial insight that, in city after city, an incredibly small segment of a given community is responsible for the vast majority of gun violence.275  

Those identified as highest risk are invited to an in-person event known as a call-in, where representatives from the community, law enforcement officers, and social service providers convey a powerful anti-violence message, along with a genuine offer of support and long-term services.276 Invitees are alerted to their risk of exposure to violence, told that their community cares about them and wants to see them alive, safe, and out of prison—but that the shooting must stop. If it does not, law enforcement officials make it clear that they will take action against those responsible.

The partnership meets regularly to ensure that the promises made at the call-in are being carried out. If new information is received about impending violence—for example, threats of retaliation among rival groups—custom interventions with specific individuals may be used. Social service providers track which individuals have accessed services and continue to reach out to those who may need further assistance. Further call-ins are conducted until the partnership is satisfied that the message has reached the desired number of groups and individuals. GVI goals are regularly measured and reassessed as new data becomes available.277  

As with Project Exile, an initial evaluation of Boston’s Operation Ceasefire yielded very impressive results: the strategy was associated with a 63% reduction in youth homicides.278 However, unlike with Exile, significant declines in violent gun crime have been linked to the GVI strategy in cities around the country, including in Oakland, California; Cincinnati, Ohio; Lowell, Massachusetts; and many others.279 In 2012, researchers for the Campbell Collaboration, an organization that evaluates the efficacy of social intervention programs, conducted an extensive review of the available data regarding Ceasefire and found “strong empirical evidence for the crime prevention effectiveness” of the strategy. This evaluation concluded that “nine out of 10 eligible studies reported strong and statistically significant crime reductions associated with the [GVI] approach.”280 An updated version of the analysis in 2019 looked at results from 24 different evaluations and reached the same conclusion.281

While research has mounted in favor of GVI in the almost two decades since PSN was first introduced,282 evidence in favor of Project Exile remains sparse and contested.283 “Thousands of people have been imprisoned under Exile nationally, yet the evidence on whether it really reduces gun violence and saves lives remains scant,” concluded Bialik.284 This is consistent with a general finding by the National Academy of Sciences, indicating that “most studies estimate the crime-reducing effect of incarceration to be small and some report that the size of the effect diminishes with the scale of incarceration.”285 Indeed, on DOJ’s own website of evidence-based crime solutions, Operation Ceasefire is rated as “effective” with multiple studies indicating a significant impact on crime, whereas Project Exile is rated as “promising,” with just a single study supporting its efficacy.286

Project Safe Neighborhoods Overview

From the beginning, the rhetoric of the Bush administration regarding PSN and its implementation of the program adhered much more closely to the approach represented by Project Exile, dramatically driving up the number of federal gun possession prosecutions nationally, with little subsequent impact on national violent crime rates and severe consequences for communities of color. The following section traces the arc of PSN under the three presidential administrations that have overseen the program over the past two decades.

PSN under the Bush Administration

To support PSN and other programs, in 2002 Congress enacted and President Bush signed the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act, establishing PSN as “a program for each United States Attorney to provide for coordination with State and local law enforcement officials in the identification and prosecution of violations of Federal firearms laws.”287 Over the next few years, hundreds of millions of dollars were directed to PSN for the purpose of hiring additional prosecutors and investigators. An early BJA toolkit for US attorneys explained the goal of the program and this influx of resources: “Through Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Administration will build on past successes in gun violence reduction by expanding and intensifying the crackdown on criminals with guns.”288  

Several years later, researchers surveyed all PSN sites and asked how they were using their resources. “Not surprisingly given the background of PSN, increased federal prosecution of gun crime was nearly universally identified as a core strategy (97.6%).”289 It’s also worth noting that, in terms of accountability and evaluating outcomes, “for most years it was difficult for at least one-third of the PSN sites to submit any data at all…And, if data were submitted, the quality leaned towards poor or very poor, making it difficult…to perform any sort of meaningful analysis with the submitted data.”290 The same survey found, alarmingly, that 20% of PSN teams were “not interested in using data and analysis to drive planning.”291

Although a lack of quality data made it difficult to determine PSN’s impact on crime, in one sense, the program did exactly what Congress and the Bush administration intended it to do: dramatically increased the number of federal prosecutions for the illegal possession of a firearm. Nationally, before PSN was launched, federal weapons convictions had plateaued at just under 4,000 per year. Four years after PSN was initiated, federal prosecutions for weapons charges peaked at 10,167 , more than double their number five years earlier,292 while convictions also doubled to an all-time peak of 9,206.293  

Yet this huge increase in prosecutions and convictions did not correspond with a significant drop in gun violence. By 2005, the US gun homicide rate was actually higher than it was in 2001.294 At the same time, this prosecutorial approach has taken a disproportionate toll on Black Americans, who in 2019 accounted for more than half of all felon-in-possession-of-a-firearm offenders while making up less than 15% of the total US population.295 Since 97.7% of these offenders are men, the disproportionate impact on Black men—who account for less than 7% of the US population—is even more severe.  

There is little evidence to support the notion that simply increasing the number of federal weapons prosecutions and convictions will reduce gun violence.296 This is borne out in local as well as national experience. For example, the Eastern District of Missouri, home to the City of St. Louis, has increased federal weapons convictions rapidly over the last five years, going from fourteenth to first in the nation for most federal weapons convictions.297 Over that same period—for all five years—St. Louis has experienced a higher homicide rate than any other big city in the country.298  

As the Bush years came to a close, the gun homicide rate had not significantly decreased. Yet PSN remained part of the federal response to violent crime.

PSN under the Obama Administration

In its first term, the Obama administration maintained the basic PSN funding mechanisms that had existed under Bush, although funding for PSN itself began to decrease. “2009 marked the beginning of the end for PSN,” lamented Republican Representative David Reichert. “Between 2010 and 2015 PSN grants dramatically declined. In total, $86 million was awarded in grants between 2010 and 2015 but only $4 million was awarded last year [in 2016]. This stands in stark contrast to the $133 million that was awarded to law enforcement agencies through the program from 2005 to 2009.”299  

Starting in 2012, presidential budget requests for DOJ began moving away from funding programs emphasizing high prosecution and enforcement for gun-related crimes to programs that incentivized “evidence-based, competitive programs designed to encourage data-driven, smart-on-crime strategies.”300 As a result, the DOJ transitioned the PSN program from a formula-based allocation of funding to a competitive grant application program.301  

This new approach was implemented via the FY2012 Competitive Grant Announcement for PSN. In FY2012, BJA awarded 13 PSN grants totaling $3,949,423.302 The Obama administration continued issuing competitive grants up until the end of 2016, with total award amounts between $4 and $7 million each year.303  

The overall effect of the Obama administration’s targeted, data-driven policy resulted in a steady decline of federal weapons convictions304 and a decrease in the national violent crime rate from 458.6 per 100,000 residents at the end of 2008 to 386.6 per 100,000 in 2016.305 In 2014, as federal gun prosecutions hovered near a 13-year low, the gun homicide rate was 21% lower than in 2006, when federal weapons convictions were at their peak.306   

That said, the Obama administration did not make addressing gun violence the funding priority that it should have.307 The final two years of the Obama administration saw an uptick in violence that were likely attributable, at least in part, to well documented breakdowns of police-community trust following high-profile incidents of brutality, including the 2014 murder of Michael Brown at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri.308 In its 2017 review of the research about this gun homicide spike, the National Institute of Justice—the research and evaluation arm of DOJ—concluded that “growing community alienation and declining police legitimacy contributed to the [nation’s] recent homicide rise.”309  

Donald Trump seized on the increase in violence in his successful bid for the presidency and touted Project Exile—which he described as “tremendous,” despite its troubling track record—as a key part of the solution.310

PSN under the Trump Administration

After Trump took office, his justice department reinvigorated PSN with various reforms and increased funding. The Trump administration immediately began reversing the Obama-era PSN policies and reverted to a non-competitive, formula-based grant system that focused not on acts of violence, but rather on charging individuals for illegal firearms possession—regardless of whether the individual’s criminal history was violent.

This reversal was announced in March 2017 via a memorandum from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in which Sessions ordered all federal prosecutors to prioritize firearm prosecutions, especially for illegal possession of guns.311 According to Sessions, federal prosecutors would be evaluated by their commitment to this tactic. In the first three months after that initial memo, the number of defendants charged with unlawful possession of a firearm increased 23 percent.312  

This de-emphasis on cases involving actual violence has resulted in prosecutions for even the most minor illegal possession cases—including 15-year mandatory minimums for possessing a single round of ammunition313—resulting in more stories like Juma Sampson’s.314 In the first half of 2018, federal attorneys prosecuted more firearms cases than any previous administration in the same time period.315  Approximately 75% of these gun charges were against people of color.316  

At the end of 2018, Sessions resigned from his position as attorney general at Trump’s request and was replaced by William Barr. While Barr has expressed support for PSN, the program is not the cornerstone it was for Sessions. Still, Sessions left behind a “formidable assembly line that transfers low-level gun cases from counties nationwide to federal prosecutors.”317  

In 2018, President Trump signed the PSN Act into law, establishing a PSN block grant program, but failing to provide much detail about the way the funds should be allocated or used, while still including “enforcement of gun laws” and the “the investigation and prosecution” of certain individuals as basic goals.318 The act specifies that the purpose of the program is to “foster and improve existing partnerships between Federal, State, and local agencies, including the United States Attorney in each Federal judicial district, entities representing members of the community affected by increased violence, victims’ advocates, and researchers to create safer neighborhoods through sustained reductions in violent crimes.”319  

The provisions of the PSN Act left room to specifically support “community-based violence prevention initiatives,” and former Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein declared in December 2018 that the goal of PSN was “not to maximize the number of criminal defendants,” but “minimize the number of crime victims.”320  

However, even after the PSN Act became law and Jeff Sessions departed, federal weapons prosecutions continued to increase.321 In 2019, there were 11,309 federal weapons charges filed and prosecuted,322 just shy of the peak under the Bush administration. And DOJ recently announced that more than 14,200 defendants were charged with firearms-related crimes in federal courts across the country during FY2020.323 Funding for PSN has also increased from its lows during the Obama administration, to around $16 million per year,324 although this is still nowhere near the program’s peak funding of the early 2000s.325 While the data is incomplete, violent crime statistics have not shown a significant enough decrease to justify the enormous increase in federal prosecutions for non-violent crimes.326

Despite these negative trends, PSN has also been leveraged to support Group Violence Intervention,327 community-based violent incident review and response,328 the provision of wraparound social services to high-risk individuals,329 reentry services,330 and genuine partnership with community-based organizations,331 all strategies that have been shown to reduce violence without relying on mass incarceration.

An examination of how PSN grants were leveraged in Oakland, California, under the Obama administration provides a clear example of how the program is capable of supporting evidence-informed and community-based violence reduction strategies. It will take much more local and national advocacy to get to the point where this becomes the norm rather than the exception. 

Oakland Case Study

As a Giffords 2019 report, A Case Study in Hope, explores in detail, Oakland, California, saw homicides and shootings drop nearly 50% between 2012 and 2018 while implementing a coordinated mix of community-based violence reduction strategies, combined with police reforms that included focusing on violent crime and building community trust. Many of these efforts took place under the umbrella of the Oakland Ceasefire Partnership, consisting of community members, social service providers, and law enforcement officials, and built around five core concepts:

  1. An in-depth problem analysis to understand violence dynamics and identify those at the highest risk of engaging in violence. In Oakland, only 400 individuals, just 0.1% of Oakland’s total population, were found to be at the highest risk.
  2. Respectful, in-person communication with these individuals to provide a genuine offer of assistance, along with a plea that shootings must stop.
  3. Relationship-based social services for high-risk individuals including intensive mentoring, economic and educational training, and direct assistance to victims of violence and their families.
  4. Narrowly focused law enforcement actions concentrated on individuals who actually commit a violent crime, in addition to procedural justice training for all officers and other strategies to improve police-community relationships.
  5. Accountability and coordination built around regular communication between Oakland Ceasefire partners and city leaders to stay on top of changing violence dynamics and track progress toward yearly violence reduction goals.332

Oakland Ceasefire has produced extremely impressive results. In 2012, when the strategy first started rolling out, Oakland suffered a devastating 126 homicides. In 2018, Oakland sustained 68 killings—still far too many, but the city’s lowest total in nearly two decades and an almost 50% reduction from six years earlier. Nonfatal shootings in Oakland also dropped dramatically, from 561 in 2012 to 277 in 2018, a more than 50% reduction. 333

Researchers led by criminologist Anthony Braga looked at shooting trends in Oakland neighborhoods in which Ceasefire was active versus neighborhoods where it was not. Their analysis associated Ceasefire with an estimated 31.5% reduction in Oakland gun homicides, controlling for seasonal variations and other trends, including gentrification. “These results suggest that the Ceasefire intervention reduced shootings involving treated gangs/groups and their rivals and allies,” Braga and his team concluded.334  

It’s also important to note that this reduction in violence coincided with a reduction in the number of overall police stops being made by OPD, from more than 30,000 stops in 2016 to fewer than 20,000 in 2018. From 2017 to 2018, there was a 43% reduction in the total number of stops of Black residents and a 35% reduction in the number of stops of Latinx residents.335

Use-of-force incidents involving officers also dropped from 1,246 in 2012 to 317 in 2017—a 75% reduction—while the number of legal claims of officer misconduct also dropped by 74% during this period.336 Moreover, the homicide solve rate in Oakland has improved dramatically in recent years, from a low of 29% in 2011 to more than 70% in 2017.337

The Oakland Ceasefire Partnership and its ally organizations are now supported by local funding through a multi-million dollar, voter-passed initiative called Measure Z,338 and by California’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (CalVIP).339 However, that was not the case when Oakland Ceasefire first launched. According to Reygan Cunningham, who served as the Ceasefire program manager until 2019, funding from PSN was “a lifesaver,” and “one of the only reasons that Ceasefire was able to happen in Oakland.”340  

At the time, a number of Ceasefire-related priorities had been identified, including policing reforms, but there simply wasn’t the budget to carry them out. OPD’s chief and Oakland’s mayor had good relationships with Melissa Hague, who was then the US attorney for the Northern District of California, and reached out to her to discuss the possibility of leveraging PSN funds to support Oakland’s new violence reduction work. “It really helps to have those champions to make the pitch,” said Reygan. Since Oakland was struggling with high rates of violence, the US attorney was inclined to support its efforts and invited the city to submit a formal proposal.

Reygan helped put together the city’s first PSN proposal, which was ultimately accepted and awarded in 2013. “We ended up receiving something like $250,000 a year for several years to expand Ceasefire,” she said. “Even in a larger city like Oakland, those resources made a big difference. That helped pay for the procedural justice trainings, and an evaluation to help improve the way OPD was handling homicide investigations in order to improve relationships with the community.”341 PSN also helped get Ceasefire off the ground by covering 80% of Reygan’s salary as the project director and 100% of the salary for the project assistant.342  

Leveraging PSN Funding

As with the other funding streams discussed in this report, decisions about how PSN resources are allocated are made exclusively at the local level. The current PSN structure gives US attorneys and PSN teams a tremendous amount of discretion in determining what strategies to support. As the controlling statutory language of the PSN Act states, “Amounts made available as grants under the Program shall be, to the greatest extent practicable, locally controlled to address problems that are identified locally.”343

Although not dictated directly by statute, the way this “local control” mandate is carried out by DOJ in practice is to require US attorney-led PSN teams to develop and execute a strategy to address serious violent crime in their districts.344 The most recent PSN funding solicitation, issued by BJA in April 2020, describes PSN teams as typically including “federal and local prosecutors; federal law enforcement agencies; local, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies; probation and parole agencies; and the certified fiscal agent. The involvement of local government leaders, social service providers, neighborhood leaders, members of the faith community, and business leaders also enhances a team’s effectiveness.”345  

Since the one guaranteed common entity in every district will be the US Attorney’s Office, advocates should first identify the US attorney in their district and start building relationships. DOJ maintains a list of US attorneys for all 94 federal judicial districts on its website. Advocates should work with their US Attorney’s Office to identify the makeup of the local PSN team, how PSN dollars are currently being spent, and the process by which funding decisions are made.

The PSN team plays an important role in making funding decisions. As the 2020 PSN solicitation states, the district’s “grant application and budget must reflect the input of the PSN team and the agreed upon apportionment of funds for all proposed subaward recipients who will play a role in the PSN violence reduction strategy…All funding decisions should be made by the PSN team before the application is submitted with clear documentation of the decision and team participants.”346 If a district is following these requirements, the makeup and decision-making process of the local PSN team should be available for advocates to request and review.

Advocates should also identify and build a relationship with the PSN fiscal agent, the entity that receives federal funds and then makes subawards. A broad range of entities are eligible to be selected as the PSN fiscal agent, including “states, units of local government, educational institutions, faith-based and other community organizations, private nonprofit organizations (including tribal nonprofit), and federally recognized Indian tribal governments.”347  

In Massachusetts, for example, the US attorney for the District of Massachusetts coordinates PSN through an Interagency Leadership Team which includes local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.348 The Interagency Leadership Team has decided to focus PSN resources on six cities in Massachusetts that are disproportionately impacted by violence.349 After the District of Massachusetts received $326,611 in PSN funding in FY2019, its fiscal agent released several PSN-related solicitations stipulating that only community-based organizations and schools were eligible for funding.350

Reforming PSN 

The PSN grant structure requires a serious overhaul at the national level in order to become more just and more effective. We recommend national advocates focus on the following objectives.

De-emphasize Prosecution of Gun Possession Offenses and Focus PSN on Highest-risk Individuals

Under the 2018 PSN Act, Congress specified that, among other things, PSN should “prioritize efforts focused on identified subsets of individuals or organizations responsible for increasing violence in a particular geographic area.”351 An in-depth investigation by the Washington Post found that across 52 of the nation’s largest cities over the past decade, more than half of all murders of Black Americans never led to an arrest, let alone a conviction.352 This seeming inability to address serious crime contributes to retaliatory violence,353 distrust of law enforcement, and high rates of illegal gun carrying in communities disproportionately affected by violence.354

While PSN has been mostly focused on locking people up for possessing a gun illegally, the criminal justice system has fundamentally failed to solve murders and nonfatal shootings, particularly when the victims are people of color. To the extent that prosecution is part of the solution to gun violence, it needs to be narrowly focused on bringing justice to those who have actually used a gun in the commission of a violent act. Instead of emphasizing the “enforcement of gun laws,” the PSN Act should be amended to emphasize “the investigation and prosecution of shootings and other acts of serious violence.” This will help bring PSN-supported solutions in line with the core behavior the program was designed to address.

Social science research demonstrates the effectiveness of programs that intervene directly with individuals at highest risk of being perpetrators or victims of violence.355 The law enforcement strategy that best lines up with this data is not Project Exile, but rather the Group Violence Intervention strategy first implemented in Boston under the name Operation Ceasefire. The PSN Act should be more explicit in directing PSN recipients to the GVI model and should clarify that raw numbers of gun possession prosecutions should not be used as indicators of successful program performance.

Focus on Jurisdictions with the Highest Levels of Gun Homicide

Shootings and homicides in this country are concentrated within gangs or groups, as well as concentrated geographically in the nation’s cities. An analysis by The Guardian observed that more than a quarter of the nation’s gun homicides occurred in city neighborhoods containing just 1.5% of the US population.356  In 2015, half of the nation’s gun homicides occurred in just 127 cities and towns.357 Moreover, analysis by the Vera institute showed that half of the aggregate increase in US homicide counts from 2014 to 2015 resulted from homicide spikes in just three cities: Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington DC.358   

PSN takes this into account somewhat, in that awards fluctuate based on population size and rates of violent crime, but splitting already limited funds among every single federal district is not effective policy and doesn’t conform to the realities of community gun violence. While all 94 federal districts are able to apply for PSN funding, many of these districts experience very few shootings. In 2018, for instance, Mississippi received less than $289,000 despite suffering 320 gun homicides, while Utah, which suffered 34 homicides, was awarded more than $260,000.

Given the limited amount of funding available and the concentrated nature of gun violence, PSN awards should focus resources on the districts containing cities with the highest levels of homicides and shootings. In order to do so, PSN should revert back to the competitive grant program format of the Obama administration, with fewer overall grants but significantly higher minimum award amounts that can actually be expected to make an impact on violent crime levels.

Prioritize Gun Violence Prevention and Intervention Strategies

PSN has always involved a tension between community-based intervention programs and prosecutorial efforts. In the 2018 PSN Act, Congress struck a balance between these two by including the following language as the second strategy for reducing violent crime: “developing evidence-based and data-driven intervention and prevention initiatives, including juvenile justice projects and activities which may include street-level outreach, conflict mediation, provision of treatment and social services, and the changing of community norms, in order to reduce violence.”359  

The Trump administration’s focus on increasing the number of prosecutions for gun possession has not achieved this balance. The Biden administration should direct DOJ to issue a guidance document interpreting the PSN Act in accordance with the statutory language. This guidance document would provide US attorneys and PSN teams with clearer direction that the program should focus on a targeted approach that balances law enforcement and community strategies. Moreover, the PSN authorizing statute expires at the end of FY2021, which will give the new administration and Congress an important opportunity to restructure PSN to bring it in line with the best practices outlined in this report.

Aside from GVI’s focused deterrence strategy, discussed above, PSN dollars should also be directed to support promising intervention and prevention strategies such as hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs) and relationship-based street outreach models, both of which have achieved significant reductions in shootings and gun homicides in communities across the country.360 To help ensure that PSN teams are pursuing a balanced approach, Congress should require that at least 50% of PSN funds be used to support evidence-informed intervention and prevention initiatives in partnership with community stakeholders.”

Meaningfully Engage the Community and Service Providers

According to a 2019 progress report, 95% of PSN teams nationwide purport to have an active partnership with prosecutors as well as federal and local law enforcement, while fewer than half partner with community groups or service providers.361  This lack of community engagement indicates that many PSN grantees are missing one of the key ingredients of a successful violence reduction initiative: community buy-in. As one report points out, “researchers have found that partnerships with leaders and entities beyond the criminal justice sector, that is, schools, churches, and community-based organizations, have a positive impact on the success of the PSN program.”362  

Researchers from Michigan State University also recommend that US attorneys include violence prevention efforts in their strategies, writing that “USAOs may wish to consider establishing or participating in a regular…forum for community stakeholders…to share information and address community concerns about violent crime, public safety, and opportunities for former offenders.”363 Without engaging the community and service providers to assess the unmet needs of high-risk individuals, a violence intervention strategy is not likely to succeed.

Under the PSN Act, the express purpose of PSN is to “foster and improve existing partnerships between Federal, State, and local agencies, including the United States Attorney in each Federal judicial district, entities representing members of the community affected by increased violence, victims’ advocates, and researchers.”364 DOJ should issue guidance requiring that PSN teams include at least one member of each statutorily named stakeholder and also maintain an even balance between law enforcement and non-law-enforcement members. PSN teams should also be required to create a process for gathering community input when fashioning a district’s PSN strategy and determining how resources will be allocated.

Finally, DOJ should either encourage or require that at least 30% of total PSN awards be passed through to community-based organizations serving the target area. Several districts may already be meeting this requirement, but for those that are not, this would help encourage an important shift in the status quo. As stated above, the PSN Act is set to expire in 2021, which will provide Congress with an opportunity to adopt many of the recommendations discussed here. While a much greater federal investment is needed to adequately address gun violence, unless very significant reforms are made, PSN is not the vehicle for making that investment.

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Spotlight

IN PURSUIT OF PEACE

Our report, In Pursuit of Peace: Building Police-Community Trust to Break the Cycle of Violence, examines how community trust, policing, and gun violence intersect in 21st century America.

Read More

Office on Community Violence

In recent years, experience and research have helped solidify an understanding of what works to reduce community violence: we know that successful violence reduction strategies need to be focused, balanced, accountable, and robust in order to succeed. It’s an unfortunate and uncomfortable truth that the federal response to community violence reflects both a lack of genuine commitment to addressing the issue and a lack of familiarity with the core principles of effective violence reduction.

Looking at the federal funding streams examined in this report, it’s clear that America has something of a Goldilocks problem when it comes to our national response to community violence: we’ve implemented robust programs that are neither focused nor balanced (Byrne JAG) and we’ve created smaller programs that are focused, but not balanced or accountable (Project Safe Neighborhoods). Then there are robust programs like VOCA that can be leveraged to address community violence, but were not specifically designed for that purpose. We have yet to put in place a national program to address community violence that’s “just right.”

Although crime is down from its peak in the 1990s, as a nation, we have not moved passed the murder rate we had in the 1960s. “Looking back, one might observe that the US experienced a remarkable decline in violence and crime over the past twenty-five years,” wrote Thomas Abt in his 2019 book, Bleeding Out. “Another equally valid observation is that after more than fifty years we have made no progress whatsoever. This failure has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and immeasurable pain and suffering. The nation remains an ugly outlier among wealthy countries, infamous for its bloody violence, as it has been for decades.”365  

We can and must do better. While advocates and practitioners should work to improve and leverage opportunities within the existing federal framework, it’s also time to recognize that we need a new way forward: a true national commitment to addressing community violence that is both large enough to match the seriousness of the problem and reflective of the best available evidence in terms of what works.

Drawing on years of research regarding best practices for addressing community violence and input from thought leaders around the country, we recommend the creation of a well-funded, federal Office on Community Violence, modeled after the Office on Violence Against Women. The following pages sketch out a basic blueprint for how this office should be structured in a way that is informed by the most recent evidence and lessons learned from past missteps. The goal is to create—for the very first time—a robust federal program for addressing community violence that reflects the core principles of violence reduction by being focused, balanced, and accountable.

Why “Community Violence”?

Unlike other federal programs that have sweeping objectives and agendas, the Office on Community Violence should be narrowly focused on the goal of reducing incidents of serious interpersonal violence in the US, with a particular emphasis on homicides and shootings. This is the right framework for several reasons.

Gun homicides rose 27% from 2014 to 2018

In recent years, gun homicides have continued to rise. These deadly increases in violence have taken a devastating toll on American cities, where gun homicides are generally concentrated.

Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed June 24, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.

First, focusing more narrowly on “gun violence” would be both under- and over-inclusive. Around two-thirds of annual gun deaths are suicides, which is a problem very distinct from interpersonal gun violence, and one that calls for a very different set of solutions.366 Accidental shootings and mass shootings are also distinct in nature from community violence (and each other) and therefore require a different approach.367 Moreover, while the majority of homicides are committed with a firearm, there are still many other means of perpetrating serious violence that do not involve the use of a gun.368 To focus exclusively on gun-related violence would ignore the fact that today’s stabbing may lead to tomorrow’s shooting—and the fact that solutions to community violence apply equally regardless of the means used to inflict harm.

Second, “community violence,” is a term distinguishable from the interrelated issue of “domestic violence,” which is already being specifically addressed at the federal level through the structure created by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which funds programs to “address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.”369  

Third, “community violence” contains a critical term—community—which should be one of the central pillars of this office’s approach to reducing violence. As a recent report by the Urban Institute and Urban Peace Institute concludes, “Federal investments focused on safety tend to operate through, and therefore center on, traditional justice system agencies: policing, prosecution, and corrections…[while] generally ignor[ing] the critical public safety strategies that operate at the community level, outside the justice system altogether.”370  

Our nation needs to find a new way forward, and the good news is that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel: the basic framework already exists.

Using the Office on Violence Against Women as a Model

In 1995, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) was established to administer many of the programs created by the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.371 The mission statement of OVW is to provide “federal leadership in developing the national capacity to reduce violence against women.”372  

Compared to the federal funding specifically earmarked for addressing community violence, funding for OVW is much more robust: the average federal appropriation for the last few years has been more than $530 million per year. Since its inception in 1995, OVW has awarded more than $9 billion in grants to help reduce domestic violence.373 OVW has funded the expansion of the nation’s technical assistance and organizational capacity within the domestic violence space, the development of statewide domestic violence prevention coalitions, and training and educational opportunities for millions of service providers.374

While levels of domestic violence in the US are still far too high, increased national capacity and resources over the last two decades has coincided with notable progress on this issue: from 1993 to 2017, the rate of serious intimate partner violence victimization for women in the US declined by 70%.375 While rates of community violence also dropped during this same period, they didn’t decrease at nearly that rate.376 OVW is far from perfect, and many of the critiques of the federal funding programs examined in this report also apply to OVW, including the need for more focused funding in underserved communities377 and an ongoing over-reliance on law enforcement approaches.378 However, the overall purpose and structure of OVW provides a very useful model for the field of community violence reduction. 

There is a strong yet underappreciated link between community violence and domestic violence.379 George Galvis, the executive director of the Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, describes this link from the perspective of lived experience: “My earliest memory, at the age of 3, was witnessing my father brutally attacking my mother. The violence that was produced in my home, I reproduced in the streets as a youth. I numbed my pain through violence because hurt people, hurt people. But now I’ve learned that healed people, heal people.”380 The Office on Community Violence should also coordinate and collaborate with the OVW, as well as other federal agencies that oversee key interrelated policy areas include policing, healthcare, housing, poverty, and research.381  

We recommend that a robustly funded Office on Community Violence serve three core functions: (1) direct federal grants to localities disproportionately impacted by community violence, with an emphasis on underserved communities of color, in order to expand evidence-informed violence reduction strategies in partnership with community stakeholders (2) build the country’s technical assistance capacity when it comes to the implementation of community violence reduction strategies and (3) set a research agenda for the community violence field and disseminate best practices. Each of these core functions is described in more detail below.

Direct Federal Grants to Disproportionately Impacted Localities

One of the primary functions of OVW is to administer federal funds to localities to help them better respond to domestic violence. OVW does this through a combination of formula grants, which are distributed based on a predetermined formula, and discretionary grants, which are awarded on a competitive basis. Importantly, a number of different stakeholders—not exclusively law enforcement agencies—are eligible to receive OVW funding, including “local, state and tribal governments, courts, non-profit organizations, community-based organizations, secondary schools, institutions of higher education, and state and tribal coalitions.”382  

Similarly, the Office on Community Violence should distribute a “core” set of formula grants and a number of complementary discretionary grants aimed at addressing specific components of the community violence epidemic. Unlike existing federal formula grants discussed in this report, the initial community violence formula grant administered by the Office on Community Violence should be for a narrow purpose: the implementation of a collaborative local strategy to reduce community violence based on intervening with the relatively small number of individuals at the highest risk of engaging in violence, informed by a detailed problem analysis, and using a balanced set of evidence-informed strategies with the help of technical assistance providers.

This more prescriptive approach would be an intentional departure from the Byrne JAG/PSN model that has essentially allowed recipients to do what they want. While local flexibility is important, it’s clear that this basic framework for reducing community violence has produced significant results that give us enough information about the general direction in which communities should be moving.383 There is already momentum in Congress around a similar set of ideas: in 2019, Senator Cory Booker and Representative Steven Horsford introduced the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which would create $900 million in federal grants over a ten-year period to support evidence-informed and community-based strategies to address community violence.384 The Break the Cycle of Violence Act provides a good basic framework for the type of core grant program that the Office on Community Violence should administer.  

The Office on Violence Against Womenalso maintains a formula grant to support domestic violence coalitions,385 and the Office on Community Violence should do the same in the context of community violence. Such coalitions are just beginning to form in states like California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, and Virginia.386 A formula grant with the purpose of supporting existing community violence coalitions and/or facilitating the creation of such coalitions would help expedite the growth of the community violence field and the nation’s capacity to address this ongoing epidemic.

In addition to formula grants, the Office on Violence Against Women’s discretionary grants are designed to help localities address specific components of domestic violence, such as “Outreach and Services to Underserved Populations,” and “Enhanced Training and Services to End Abuse in Later Life.”387 The Office on Community Violence should similarly leverage competitive discretionary grants to help localities address more specific issues, including establishing local offices of community violence prevention,388  improving the healthcare system’s response to victims of community violence,389 developing diversion programs for nonviolent gun offenders,390 and addressing low solve rates for homicides and nonfatal shootings.391A revamped PSN, for example, could be overseen by the Office on Community Violence, in coordination with DOJ, as a discretionary grant to help improve the law enforcement response to serious violence in a way that is focused on solving homicides rather than prosecuting gun possession cases.

Congress passed new provisions of VAWA in 2013 that included an audit requirement and “mandatory exclusion from eligibility if a grantee is found to have an unresolved audit finding.”392 The Office on Community Violence should adopt similarly strict measures and implement other best practices when it comes to ensuring that grants are being used effectively. While many performance metrics will of course matter, accountability will ultimately come from measuring the number of homicides committed in the US—if the homicide rate is not decreasing after several years of operation, then the Office on Community Violence is not doing its job.

Build Up America’s Technical Assistance Capacity

One of the primary roles of the Office on Community Violence should be to identify quality technical assistance providers, connect those providers to cities impacted by community violence, and work to develop the field of technical assistance providers. “Doing violence reduction work correctly requires local commitment to doing the work, a focus on metrics, institutionalization, accountability, sticking with evidence-based approaches—all aided by outside expertise,” said criminologist David Kennedy, director of the National Network for Safe Communities. “The limiting factor at the national level is the outside advisory capacity. There’s only so many providers who know how to do the work well. We need more federal investment to intentionally expand that pool.”393

One of the issues with grants like Byrne JAG is that technical assistance has been handled by groups that, while often expert in many areas, do not specialize in violence reduction strategies. For example, as of summer 2020, almost none of the organizations listed on BJA’s Training and Technical Assistance Grantee Directory focus specifically on community violence.394 Kennedy suggests that technical assistance itself needs to evolve with respect to community violence reduction work. “Holding a workshop and publishing some guides doesn’t cut it for this work. What it takes is more like embedded, active, working partnerships. That hasn’t been built into the federal structure.”395  

The Office on Community Violence should help the federal government identify existing centers of excellence for technical assistance provision and create processes for training others on how to do the work through a National Technical Assistance Academy. The office would be responsible for measuring the expansion of the nation’s technical assistance capacity over time as a key metric of success. The Office on Violence Against Women again provides a useful comparison. As part of its “Training and Technical Assistance Initiative,” the OVW awarded nearly $30 million (more than the entire PSN budget) for the specific purpose of connecting grantees with technical assistance.396 The community violence space desperately needs this sort of intentional support for its limited supply of technical assistance providers.

Set a Research Agenda and Disseminate Best Practices

Through federal statute, a percentage of funds for VAWA programs are set aside for research and evaluation. OVW created a “Research and Evaluation Initiative,” in order to move the ball forward on establishing what works when it comes to reducing domestic violence. The first part of this process involved a partnership between academic institutions and OVW, and included a comprehensive literature review and assessment of gaps in knowledge and “[i]nterviews with more than 75 expert researchers and practitioners about what they see as the most urgent priorities for research and evaluation” in the field of domestic violence.397 This led to the publication of a series of reports documenting best practices and identifying priority areas of research for the field. In 2016, OVW then released a grant solicitation specifically for the purpose of advancing the domestic violence research agenda, with a particular emphasis on practitioner-researcher partnerships.398  

Although there have been significant advances in recent years when it comes to understanding community violence, there is a strong need for a similar effort in the community violence space. This is particularly true with gun violence because for many years, federal policy has discouraged research into the causes and solutions of gun violence, including the infamous Dicky Amendment.399 Policies like these have created a chilling effect on research into gun violence—the most common form of homicide. As Thomas Abt writes, “relative to mortality rates, gun violence is the most underfunded and understudied cause of death in the nation.400 The Office on Community Violence should help move the state of knowledge forward by synthesizing and making public the latest research on community violence, identifying important gaps, and coordinating with other federal research agencies to ensure that solutions are informed by on-the-ground experiences.

The office should also work to ensure that information about best practices gets into the hands of practitioners, policymakers, and other stakeholders around the country. OVW does this through a combination of publications, online resources, technical assistance programs and, most recently through a bi-annual convening.401 This convening is required by federal statute to address (1) the administration of grants, (2) unmet needs, (3) promising practices in the field, and (4) emerging trends.402 OVW is also required to issue a report to Congress every two years, addressing the effectiveness of funded programs and identifying any gaps in services.403  

The Office on Community Violence should similarly be charged with publishing regularly about best practices in the field, reporting to Congress on the efficacy and challenges related to funded programs, and regularly hosting a national conference on the topic of community violence. Its goal should be to rapidly become a trusted resource and its website set up as a one-stop-shop for stakeholders of all kinds seeking to reduce community violence.

HERE TO HELP

Interested in partnering with us to draft, enact, or implement lifesaving gun safety legislation in your community? Our attorneys provide free assistance to lawmakers, public officials, and advocates working toward solutions to the gun violence crisis.

CONTACT US

Conclusion

Establishing a new federal office with a robust budget and a specific mandate to reduce community violence won’t be easy, but we can’t afford to maintain the national status quo—too many lives have already been lost, too many families and communities shattered.

“No statistic can capture a child’s lost potential or a mother’s grief, but when the collective costs of murder are estimated, they are staggering,” wrote Thomas Abt. “Anywhere from $173 billion to $332 billion in criminal justice and medical costs, lost wages and earnings, damaged and devalued property, and diminished quality of life. That’s between $531 and $1,020 per American, paid out in higher taxes, higher insurance premiums, and lower property values. And that is just the price of homicide—the human and economic costs of all violent crime run even higher.”404

For a problem of this epic scale, an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars a year is the minimum that we can and must do as a nation. Not only is it the right thing to do, but given the enormous economic costs associated with community violence, it’s also a prudent investment. The few states that are investing in similar programs on a local level are seeing savings of more than $7 for every taxpayer dollar spent.405 Similar success on the national level could generate tremendous cost savings across multiple public sectors.

A number of other violence prevention, criminal justice reform, and social justice organizations are recommending a similarly increased investment at the national level. Given the flaws with existing federal funding sources, the Center for American Progress recommends that “the DOJ should merge existing disparate funding streams to form several large-scale formula grants, each structured around a specific goal.”406  

Similarly, the Urban Institute and Urban Peace Institute recently recommended that the federal government “directly invest in developing and strengthening community safety infrastructure that does not rely upon traditional justice agencies.”407 Given the strong connection between the COVID pandemic and community violence, new federal resources for this purpose “would be particularly timely, because building local capacity at the intersection of health and safety can address the root causes of both violence and viruses.”408

Policymakers are increasingly embracing this idea as well. As a candidate, Joe Biden’s platform included a plan to “tackle urban gun violence with targeted, evidence-based community interventions,”409 which states that “Biden will create a $900 million, eight-year initiative to fund these and other types of evidence-based interventions in 40 cities across the country – the 20 cities with the highest number of homicides, and 20 cities with the highest number of homicides per capita. This proposal is estimated to save more than 12,000 lives over the eight-year program.”410  

In this report, we’ve laid out a number of paths to supporting evidence-based community violence initiatives at the federal level, including ways to leverage and reform VOCA, Byrne JAG, and PSN, as well as the creation of a national Office on Community Violence to completely overhaul how federal funds are directed to solve this most pressing problem. What these approaches all have in common is that they redirect funds away from punitive strategies that fuel mass incarceration and towards proven strategies that target the small number of individuals most at risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator of violence.

We hope that this report is helpful to the new administration, as well as state and local policymakers and activists around the country. The story of America’s response to community violence over the past few decades is full of missteps and missed opportunities that have exacted a great toll on underserved communities across our country. Now is the time to do what we can to right these wrongs and chart a better path forward, one that is informed and led by the communities most affected by daily gun violence. Too much is at stake to justify the continued squandering and misdirection of federal funds. We know what works to solve community violence—now we need leaders with the courage and conviction to commit resources to end this epidemic.

JOIN THE FIGHT

Gun violence costs our nation 40,000 lives each year. We can’t sit back as politicians fail to act tragedy after tragedy. Giffords Law Center brings the fight to save lives to communities, statehouses, and courts across the country—will you stand with us?

  1. Lyndon B. Johnson, “Remarks Upon Signing Order Establishing the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders,” American Presidency Project, accessed November 18, 2020, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/remarks-upon-signing-order-establishing-the-national-advisory-commission-civil-disorders.[]
  2. Alice George, “The 1968 Kerner Commission Got It Right, But Nobody Listened,” Smithsonian Magazine, March 1, 2018, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/1968-kerner-commission-got-it-right-nobody-listened-180968318.[]
  3. Id.[]
  4. Id.[]
  5. National Advisory Commission, “Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders,” National Criminal Justice Reference Service, February 20, 1981, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/Digitization/8073NCJRS.pdf.[]
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  7. Alice George, “The 1968 Kerner Commission Got It Right, But Nobody Listened,” Smithsonian Magazine, March 1, 2018, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/1968-kerner-commission-got-it-right-nobody-listened-180968318.[]
  8. Olivia B. Waxman, “Trump Declared Himself the ‘President of Law and Order.’ Here’s What People Get Wrong About the Origins of That Idea,” TIME, June 2, 2020, https://time.com/5846321/nixon-trump-law-and-order-history.[]
  9. “Nixon Adviser Admits War on Drugs Was Designed to Criminalize Black People,” Equal Justice Initiative, March 25, 2016, https://eji.org/news/nixon-war-on-drugs-designed-to-criminalize-black-people.[]
  10. Dan Baum, “Legalize It All,” Harper’s Magazine, April 2016, https://harpers.org/archive/2016/04/legalize-it-all.[]
  11. Michelle Alexander and Cornel West, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindess (New York: The New Press, 2010); Civil Rights Division, “Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department,” United States Department of Justice, March 4, 2015, https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/03/04/ferguson_police_department_report.pdf.[]
  12. Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, “Exploding Wealth Inequality in the United States,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth,” October 20, 2014, https://equitablegrowth.org/exploding-wealth-inequality-united-states.[]
  13. Peter Baker, “Trump May Compare Himself to Nixon in 1968, but He Really Resembles Wallace,” The New York Times, June 9, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/us/politics/trump-2020.html.[]
  14. Mike Crowley and Betsy Pearl, “Reimagining Federal Grants for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform,” October 7, 2020, Center for American Progress, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/criminal-justice/reports/2020/10/07/491314/reimagining-federal-grants-public-safety-criminal-justice-reform.[]
  15. Jeffery B. Bingenheimer, Robert T. Brennan, and Felton J. Earls, “Firearm Violence, Exposure and Serious Violent Behavior,” Science 308 (2005): 1323–1326.[]
  16. Frederick Rivara, et al., “The Effects of Violence on Health,” Health Affairs 38, no. 10 (2019), https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/abs/10.1377/hlthaff.2019.00480#:~:text=Consequences%20include%20increased%20incidences%20of,as%20the%20form%20of%20violence.[]
  17. Patrick Sharkey, Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018).[]
  18. Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019).[]
  19. Id.[]
  20. Patrick Sharkey, Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018).[]
  21. Giffords, “Statistics,” accessed November 19, 2020, https://giffords.org/gun-violence-statistics.[]
  22. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Healing Communities in Crisis: Lifesaving Solutions to the Urban Gun Violence Epidemic,” March 10, 2016, http://lawcenter.giffords.org/healing-communities.[]
  23. Id.[]
  24. Mike McLively and Brittany Nieto, “A Case Study in Hope: Lessons from Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence,” Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, April 23, 2019, https://giffords.org/lawcenter/report/a-case-study-in-hope-lessons-from-oaklands-remarkable-reduction-in-gun-violence.[]
  25. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State-Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence,” December 18, 2017, https://giffords.org/lawcenter/report/investing-intervention-critical-role-state-level-support-breaking-cycle-urban-gun-violence.[]
  26. Ed Chung, Betsy Pearl, and Lea Hunter, “The 1994 Crime Bill Continues to Undercut Justice Reform—Here’s How to Stop It,” Center for American Progress, March 26, 2019, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/criminal-justice/reports/2019/03/26/467486/1994-crime-bill-continues-undercut-justice-reform-heres-stop; Jesse Jannetta, Leah Sakala, and Fernando Rejón, “Federal Investment in Community-Driven Public Safety,” Urban Institute, September 2020, https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/102877/federal-investment-in-community-driven-public-safety.pdf.[]
  27. Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019).[]
  28. VCU Health, “Bridging the Gap: Youth/Community Violence Intervention,” accessed November 9, 2020, https://www.vcuhealth.org/services/injury-and-violence-prevention/ivpp-programs/bridging-the-gap.[]
  29. Interview with Rachelle Hunley, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, September 4, 2020.[]
  30. Id.[]
  31. Id.[]
  32. Leah Small, “In a War Zone: Richmond victims of gun violence mark Youth Violence Prevention Week with stories of trauma and survival,” Style Weekly, March 10, 2020, https://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/in-a-war-zone/Content?oid=15779053.[]
  33. Interview with Rachelle Hunley, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, September 4, 2020.[]
  34. Id.[]
  35. Jonathan Purtle, et al., “Hospital-based violence intervention programs save lives and money,” J. Trauma Acute Care Surg. 75, no. 2 (2013), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23887566. See also National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs, “Hospital-based Violence Intervention: Practices and Policies to End the Cycle of Violence,” March 2019, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5d6f61730a2b610001135b79/t/5d83c0d9056f4d4cbdb9acd9/1568915699707/NNHVIP+White+Paper.pdf.[]
  36. Office of the Governor, “Governor Northam Announces $2.45 Million in Grant Funds for Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs,” May 9, 2019, https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2019/may/headline-840545-en.html.[]
  37. Interview with Davis Gammon, Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, August 12, 2020.[]
  38. Marlene Young and John Stein, “The History of the Crime Victims’ Movement in the United States: A  Component of The Office for Victims of Crime Oral History Project,” Office for Victims of Crime, December 2004, https://www.ncjrs.gov/ovc_archives/ncvrw/2005/pg4c.html.[]
  39. Id.[]
  40. Lois Haight Harrington, et al., “Final Report of the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime,” President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, December 1982, https://ovc.ojp.gov/library/publications/final-report-presidents-task-force-victims-crime.[]
  41. Lisa N. Sacco, “The Crime Victims Fund: Federal Support for Victims of Crime,’ Congressional Research Service, April 2, 2020, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R42672.[]
  42. Office for Victims of Crime, “About OVC,” April 18, 2020, https://ovc.ojp.gov/about-ovc.[]
  43. Office for Victims of Crime, “2020 Crime Victims Fund Compensation and Assistance Allocations,” April 28, 2020, https://ovc.ojp.gov/funding/2020-crime-victims-fund-compensation-and-assistance-allocations; Office for Victims of Crime, “OVC Formula Chart,” accessed November 9, 2020, https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/media/document/crime-victims-fund-compensation-allocations-2020.pdf.[]
  44. Doug Sword, “Shrinking victims fund signals tough times for appropriators,” Roll Call, March 21, 2019, https://www.rollcall.com/2019/03/21/shrinking-victims-fund-signals-tough-times-for-appropriators.[]
  45. Office for Victims of Crime, “Crime Victims Fund,” April 18, 2020, https://ovc.ojp.gov/about/crime-victims-fund.[]
  46. Most recently, the House Committee on Appropriations proposed to cap the amount of funds available in the CVF for use in FY2021 at $2.65 billion. See 116th Congress, “H.R.7667 – Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2021,” 2019–20, https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/7667/text; 116th Congress, “House Report 116-455—Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2021,” 2019–2020, https://www.congress.gov/116/crpt/hrpt455/CRPT-116hrpt455.pdf.[]
  47. Californians for Safety and Justice, “Victims of Crime Act and the Need for Advocacy: A Toolkit for Advocates and Victims Services Providers to Ensure Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Funds Reach Underserved Crime Victims,” March 2017, https://safeandjust.org/wp-content/uploads/CSJ-VOCA-toolkit-Mar2017-R2.pdf.[]
  48. Children’s Bureau, “CJA 101: Quick Facts About the Children’s Justice Act Grant,” Capacity Building Center for States, accessed November 9, 2020, https://capacity.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/cbc/cja-101-factsheet-cp-00048.pdf. Other programs supported with smaller allocations include the Federal Victim Notification System, which provides free notification to victims of federal crime regarding the status of their cases. United States Department of Justice, “Victim Notification Program,” accessed November 9, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/criminal-vns; another program operated through the US Attorney’s Office hires victim-witness coordinators who provide direct support for victims of federal crime by assisting victims in criminal proceedings and advising them of their rights. Lisa N. Sacco, “The Crime Victims Fund: Federal Support for Victims of Crime,” Congressional Research Service, April 2, 2020, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R42672.[]
  49. Lisa N. Sacco, “The Crime Victims Fund: Federal Support for Victims of Crime,’ Congressional Research Service, April 2, 2020, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R42672.[]
  50. Each state compensation program receives an annual grant equal to 60 percent of what the program spends in state money annually. This calculation is based on the state dollars paid out for the federal fiscal year two years prior to the year of the federal grant. Office for Victims of Crime, “Crime Victims Fund,” accessed November 9, 2020,  https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/pubs/crimevictimsfundfs/intro.html.[]
  51. Office of the Inspector General, “Review of the Office of Justice Programs’ Efforts to Address Challenges in Administering the Crime Victims Fund Programs,” United States Department of Justice, July 2019, Figure 3, https://www.oversight.gov/sites/default/files/oig-reports/a1934.pdf.[]
  52. Office for Victims of Crime, “Crime Victims Fund,” United States Department of Justice, accessed July 22, 2020, https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/pubs/crimevictimsfundfs/intro.html. See also Office for Victims of Crime, “Victims of Crime Act Victim Compensation Formula Grant Program: Fiscal Year 2018 Data Analysis Report,” United States Department of Justice, accessed November 9, 2020, https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/media/document/2018-voca-annual-compensation-performance-report.pdf.[]
  53. Office for Victims of Crime, “Crime Victims Fund,” United States Department of Justice, accessed July 22, 2020, https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/pubs/crimevictimsfundfs/intro.html; see e.g., Virginia Victims Fund, “Policies and Procedures of the Virginia Victims Fund,” Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commision, July 1, 2019, http://www.cicf.state.va.us/sites/default/files/Documents/VVF-Policies-and-Procedures.pdf; California Victim Compensation Board, “California Victim Compensation Board,” accessed November 9, 2020, https://victims.ca.gov; Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services, “Criminal Injuries Compensation Board,” accessed November 9, 2020, http://goccp.maryland.gov/victims/cicb.[]
  54. 34 U.S.C. § 20101.[]
  55. World Health Organization, “Violence prevention the evidence, Reducing violence through victim identification, care and support programmes,” 2009, https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/programmes.pdf.[]
  56. Elizabeth Van Brocklin, “States Set Aside Millions of Dollars for Crime Victims. But Some Gun Violence Survivors Don’t Get the Funds They Desperately Need.” The Trace, February 12, 2018, https://www.thetrace.org/2018/02/gun-violence-victims-of-crime-compensation.[]
  57. Id.[]
  58. Alysia Santo, “States have millions of $ to help victims of crime but seven ban aid for people with criminal records. A close look at two states shows how this hurts black families the most,” The Marshall Project, September 13, 2018, https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/09/13/the-victims-who-don-t-count.[]
  59. Josh Sweigart and Laura A. Bischoff, “State leaders looking at victim compensation reforms after Dayton Daily News investigation,” Dayton Daily News, August 17, 2020, https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/state-leaders-looking-at-reforms-after-dayton-daily-news-investigation/AG6MO3NH4ZESBFY2GN76QSXHAU.[]
  60. Alysia Santo, “States have millions of $ to help victims of crime but seven ban aid for people with criminal records. A close look at two states shows how this hurts black families the most,” The Marshall Project, September 13, 2018, https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/09/13/the-victims-who-don-t-count.[]
  61. Everytown for Gun Safety, “A Fund for Healing, Voca Grants for Violence Reduction,” January 29, 2020, https://everytownresearch.org/report/voca.[]
  62. Michelle Alexander and Cornel West, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindess (New York: The New Press, 2010).[]
  63. Californians for Safety and Justice, “Survivors of Crime Celebrate Introduction of Groundbreaking Bill Eliminating Barriers to State Support for Victims of Police Brutality,” July 7, 2020, https://safeandjust.org/news/survivors-of-crime-celebrate-introduction-of-groundbreaking-bill-eliminating-barriers-to-state-support-for-victims-of-police-brutality.[]
  64. Office for Victims of Crime, “Crime Victims Fund,” United States Department of Justice, accessed July 22, 2020, https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/pubs/crimevictimsfundfs/intro.html.[]
  65. Office for Victims of Crime, “Formula Grants,” United States Department of Justice, April 28, 2020, https://ovc.ojp.gov/funding/types-of-funding/formula-grants.[]
  66. See 34 U.S.C. § 20103(d)(2); 28 C.F.R. § 94.102, 94.119 (2019).[]
  67. 34 USC § 20103(d)(2).[]
  68. See National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, “State Administrator Directory,” accessed November 9, 2020, https://navaa.org/state-administrator-directory.[]
  69. Id.[]
  70. 28 C.F.R. § 94.103(a) (2019).[]
  71. 28 CFR § 94.104 (2019).[]
  72. Victims of Crime Act Victim Assistance Grant Program, 81 Fed. Reg. 44,515, 44,519 (July 8, 2016).[]
  73. SAAs may spend no more than 5% of funds on training and administration. 34 U.S.C. § 20103(b)(3); 28 C.F.R. §§ 94.103(a); 94.107(a) (2019).[]
  74. Equal Justice USA, “Apply for VOCA Funding: A Toolkit for Organizations Working with Crime Survivors in Communities of Color and Other Underserved Communities,” accessed November 9, 2020, https://ejusa.org/resource/apply-for-voca-funding.[]
  75. Everytown for Gun Safety, “A Fund for Healing, Voca Grants for Violence Reduction,” January 29, 2020, https://everytownresearch.org/report/voca (emphasis added).[]
  76. Office of the Attorney General, “Notice of Availability and Award of Funds FFY 2018 Federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), Competitive Funds for New Jersey Hospital Based Violence Intervention Program (NJHVIP),” accessed November 9, 2020, https://www.njpublicsafety.com/grants/FFY-18_VOCA-HVIP_NOAF.pdf.[]
  77. “Community Street Team, Deescalation Training Credited For Newark’s Decreasing Homicide, Violent Crime Rates,” CBS New York, July 1, 2020, https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2020/07/01/newark-community-street-team.[]
  78. Alliance for Safety and Justice, “Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice,” accessed November 9, 2020, https://cssj.org.[]
  79. See “Alliance for Safety and Justice,” accessed November 9, 2020, https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org.[]
  80. Tom Moran, “Christie’s neglect leaves crime victims without help,” NJ.com, updated January 16, 2019, https://www.nj.com/opinion/2017/03/victims_of_street_crime_shorted_by_christies_negle.html.[]
  81. Ted Sherman, “Twice the Victim,” NJ Advance Media, August 28, 2018, https://projects.nj.com/investigations/victims.[]
  82. Id.[]
  83. Id.[]
  84. Rebeca Ibarra, “Newark Crime Rates Continue to Drop, But It’s as Much About Perception as Reality,” WNYC News, January 4, 2019, https://www.wnyc.org/story/newark-crime-rates-continue-drop-its-much-about-perception-reality.[]
  85. Id.[]
  86. Office of the Attorney General, “AG Grewal Announces New Leadership to Strengthen Victim Services Across New Jersey,” February 26, 2019, https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases19/pr20190226a.html.[]
  87. “Giffords applauds New Jersey Legislature for Passing Legislation to Address Gun Violence in New Jersey,” Giffords, June 20, 2019, https://giffords.org/press-release/2019/06/new-jersey-gun-package-passage; see NJ SB 3309, https://www.billtrack50.com/BillDetail/1018499#:~:text=This%20bill%20establishes%20the%20New,with%20a%20particular%20emphasis%20on.[]
  88. RLS Staff, “AG Grewal Announces $20M in Available Grants to Establish Nine Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs Across NJ,” RLS Media, September 24, 2019, https://www.rlsmedia.com/article/ag-grewal-announces-20m-available-grants-establish-nine-hospital-based-violence-intervention.[]
  89. Id.[]
  90. Id.[]
  91. The NOAF further specified that the training and technical support provider needed to have experience with victim services and/or violence reduction programming and provide the staff resources and capacity necessary to support a wide range of New Jersey stakeholders. See Office of the Attorney General, “Notice of Availability and Award of Funds FFY 2018 Federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), Competitive Funds for New Jersey Hospital Based Violence Intervention Program (NJHVIP),” accessed November 9, 2020, https://www.njpublicsafety.com/grants/FFY-18_VOCA-HVIP_NOAF.pdf.[]
  92. For detailed examples of similar investment, see Giffords Law Center, “Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State-Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence,” December 18, 2017, https://giffords.org/lawcenter/report/investing-intervention-critical-role-state-level-support-breaking-cycle-urban-gun-violence.[]
  93. Office of the Attorney General, “Notice of Availability and Award of Funds FFY 2018 Federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), Competitive Funds for New Jersey Hospital Based Violence Intervention Program (NJHVIP),” accessed November 9, 2020, https://www.njpublicsafety.com/grants/FFY-18_VOCA-HVIP_NOAF.pdf.[]
  94. State of New Jersey, “Governor Murphy, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, and Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords Announce Winners of Grants for Nine Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs Across New Jersey,” January 29, 2020, https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200129a.shtml.[]
  95. Id. The eight sites are: Center for Family Services in Camden, Trinitas Health Foundation in Elizabeth, AtlantiCare in Atlantic City, Capital Health in Trenton, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, RWJ University Hospital in New Brunswick, University Hospital in Newark, Jersey Shore University Medical Center/Hackensack Meridian in Monmouth County, and St. Joseph’s Health in Paterson.[]
  96. See “The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention,” accessed November 9, 2020, https://www.thehavi.org.[]
  97. State of New Jersey, “Governor Murphy, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, and Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords Announce Winners of Grants for Nine Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs Across New Jersey,” January 29, 2020, https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200129a.shtml.[]
  98. Interview with Elizabeth Ruebman, Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, July 30, 2020.[]
  99. Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam, “Governor Northam Announces $2.45 Million in Grant Funds for Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs,” May 9, 2019, https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2019/may/headline-840545-en.html.[]
  100. State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, Office of Victim Services, “Request for Proposal Number 02-1904,” March 6, 2019, https://bit.ly/2Tm0dgC; US Representative John Larson, “Larson Joins Community Partners to Announce $694K Grant to Help Victims of Gun Violence,” August 21, 2019, https://bit.ly/2tXTp1U.[]
  101. California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, “Grant: 2020-21 Innovative Response to Marginalized Victims (KI) Program RFA,” October 28, 2020, https://www.caloes.ca.gov/grant-details?itemID=412&ItemTitle=2020-21+Innovative+Response+to+Marginalized+Victims+(KI)+Program+RFA.[]
  102. Missouri Department of Social Services Division of Finance and Administrative Services, “Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Hospital Based Victims Advocacy (HBVA) Notice of Funding Opportunity (NFO) FFY 2020,” accessed November 9, 2020, https://dss.mo.gov/bids/files/VOCA-HBVA-NFO-092419.pdf.[]
  103. Benedicta Adewunmi, “New York State’s Application for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program Funds – FY 2019,” New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, June 25, 2019, https://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/pio/press_releases/Program-Narrative-New-York-State-FY-2019-Byrne-JAG-Application.pdf.[]
  104. Ohio Attorney General’s Office, “Attorney General DeWine Announces $2.6 Million in Grants to Create Trauma Recovery Centers,” January 31, 2017, https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/January-2017/Attorney-General-DeWine-Announces-$2-6-Million-in.[]
  105. Interview with Elizabeth Cronin, New York State Office of Victim Services, October 2, 2020; see also Benedicta Adewunmi, “New York State’s Application for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program Funds – FY 2019,” New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, June 25, 2019, https://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/pio/press_releases/Program-Narrative-New-York-State-FY-2019-Byrne-JAG-Application.pdf.[]
  106. See Healing Justice Alliance,”Opportunity Knocks-Obtaining VOCA Funding for Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs (July 12, 107),” accessed November 19, 2020, http://www.healingjusticealliance.org/trainings.[]
  107. “Apply for Voca Funding: A Toolkit for Organizations Working with Crime Survivors in Communities of Color and Other Underserved Communities,” Equal Justice USA, January 2017, https://ejusa.org/wp-content/uploads/EJUSA-VOCA-Toolkit-updated-Jan-2017.pdf.[]
  108. “A Fund for Healing: VOCA Grants for Violence Reduction,” Everytown for Gun Safety, January 29, 2020, https://everytownresearch.org/report/voca.[]
  109. Interview with Elizabeth Ruebman, Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, July 30, 2020.[]
  110. “State Administrator Directory,” National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, accessed November 11, 2010, https://navaa.org/state-administrator-directory.[]
  111. “Victims of Crime Act and the Need for Advocacy,” Californians for Safety and Justice, March 2017, https://safeandjust.org/wp-content/uploads/CSJ-VOCA-toolkit-Mar2017-R2.pdf.[]
  112. See Latrina Kelly-James and Mike McLively, “Opportunity Knocks-Obtaining VOCA Funding for Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs,” Equal Justice USA, July 12, 2017, http://www.healingjusticealliance.org/trainings.[]
  113. Interview with Elizabeth Ruebman, Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, July 30, 2020.[]
  114. “Victims of Crime Act and the Need for Advocacy,” Californians for Safety and Justice, March 2017, https://safeandjust.org/wp-content/uploads/CSJ-VOCA-toolkit-Mar2017-R2.pdf.[]
  115. “A Fund for Healing: VOCA Grants for Violence Reduction,” Everytown for Gun Safety, January 29, 2020, https://everytownresearch.org/report/voca.[]
  116. “Notice of Availability and Award of Funds: FFY 2018, Federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA),” Office of the Attorney General, 2018, https://www.njpublicsafety.com/grants/FFY-18_VOCA-HVIP_NOAF.pdf.[]
  117. 115th Congress, “House Report 115-704—Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill,”  2017–18, https://www.congress.gov/congressional-report/115th-congress/house-report/704/1.[]
  118. Office for Victims of Crime, “OVC FY 2019 VOCA Victim Assistance,” United States Department of Justice, Grant Solicitation, May 23, 2019, https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/media/document/OVC-2019-15204.pdf.[]
  119. See Office for Victims of Crime, “OVC FY 2018 Advancing Hospital-Based Victim Services,” United States Department of Justice, Grant Solicitation, May 30, 2018, https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/media/document/OVC-2018-14048.pdf.[]
  120. See Fatimah Loren Muhammad, “The Pandemic’s Impact on Racial Inequity and Violence Can’t be Ignored,” The Trace, May 7, 2020, https://www.thetrace.org/2020/05/coronavirus-racial-inequity-and-violence-cant-be-ignored; Jordan Costa, “Gun Violence Work Could Use Billions of Dollars in Victim Assistance Funds,” Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, March 11, 2020, https://jjie.org/2020/03/11/victim-assistance-funds-offer-billions-of-dollars-in-gun-violence-fight.[]
  121. Lisa N. Sacco, “The Crime Victims Fund: Federal Support for Victims of Crime,” Congressional Research Service, R42672, April 2, 2020, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R42672.[]
  122. Doug Sword, “Shrinking victims fund signals tough times for appropriators,” Roll Call, March 21, 2019, https://www.rollcall.com/2019/03/21/shrinking-victims-fund-signals-tough-times-for-appropriators.[]
  123. “CVF Appropriation Talking Points,” National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, June 2020, https://navaa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/NAVAA-CVF-Appropriations-Talking-Points.pdf.[]
  124. National Association of Attorneys General, “Letter to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader McCarthy, Minority Leader Schumer, Chairman Nadler, Chairman Graham, Ranking Member Jordan, and Ranking Member Feinstein,” August 24, 2020, https://www.naag.org/assets/redesign/files/VOCA%20Amendments%20-%20NAAG%20Final_.pdf; see also National Association of Attorneys General, “56 Attorneys General Urge Congress to Adopt Key Changes to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA),” August 24, 2020, https://www.naag.org/naag/media/naag-news/duplicate-bipartisan-coalition-of-attorneys-general-supports-legislation-to-protect-victims-of-elder-fraud.php.[]
  125. National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, “CVF Talking Points,” accessed November 10, 2020, https://navaa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/NAVAA-CVF-Appropriations-Talking-Points.pdf.[]
  126. “Victims of Crime Act Victim Assistance Program,” Federal Register, Rule, 81 FR 44515, 44515-44535, August 8, 2016, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/07/08/2016-16085/victims-of-crime-act-victim-assistance-program.[]
  127. Office for Victims of Crime, “Crime Victims Fund,” United States Department of Justice, accessed July 22, 2020, https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/pubs/crimevictimsfundfs/intro.html.[]
  128. “Victims of Crime Act Victim Assistance Program,” Federal Register, Rule, 62 FR 19607, April 22, 1997, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-1997-04-22/pdf/97-10403.pdf; “Victims of Crime Act Victim Assistance Program,” Federal Register, Rule, 67 FR 56444, September 3, 2002, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2002-09-03/pdf/02-21830.pdf; “Victims of Crime Act Victim Assistance Program,” Federal Register, Rule, 78 FR 52877, August 28, 2013, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2013-08-27/pdf/2013-20426.pdf.[]
  129. “Victims of Crime Act Victim Assistance Program,” Federal Register, Rule, 62 81 FR 44515, July 8, 2016, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/07/08/2016-16085/victims-of-crime-act-victim-assistance-program.[]
  130. See, e.g., Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, “Crime Victim Services Section Guidelines and Eligibility Fiscal Year 2019-2020,” accessed November 10, 2020, https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Files/Individuals-and-Families/Victims/VOCA-SVAA-Grants-for-Advocates/2017-Guidelines-and-Eligibility.aspx.[]
  131. If OVC believes this requirement derives from statute, it should identify the relevant provision of federal law. In this case, congressional action would be needed to amend the “crime prevention” prohibition.[]
  132. Interview with Jerome Brown, Albany 518 SNUG, October 9, 2020.[]
  133. Id.[]
  134. Interview with Jerome Brown, Albany 518 SNUG, October 9, 2020.[]
  135. Id.[]
  136. Interview with Michael Green, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, September 24, 2020.[]
  137. Interview with Jerome Brown, Albany 518 SNUG, October 9, 2020.[]
  138. Sheyla A. Delgado, et al., “Denormalizing Violence: A Series of Reports From the John Jay College Evaluation of Cure Violence Programs in New York City,” John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center, October 2, 2017, https://johnjayrec.nyc/2017/10/02/cvinsobronxeastny; Wesley G. Skogan, et al., “Evaluation of Ceasefire-Chicago,” Northwestern University, March 20, 2008, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/227181.pdf; Daniel W. Webster, et al., “Effects of Baltimore’s Safe Streets Program on gun violence: A replication of Chicago’s CeaseFire Program,” Journal of Urban Health 90, no. 1 (2013): 27–40, http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/web-assets/2012/01/evaluation-of-baltimore-s-safe-streets-program; Jason Corburn and Amanda Fukutome-Lopez, “Outcome Evaluation of Advance Peace Sacramento, 2018-–19,” UC Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development, March 2020, https://www.advancepeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Corburn-and-F-Lopez-Advance-Peace-Sacramento-2-Year-Evaluation-03-2020.pdf.[]
  139. Interview with Michael Green, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, September 24, 2020; “Fatal Injury Data”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.[]
  140. “Fatal Injury Data,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2015–2018, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.[]
  141. Interview with Jerome Brown, Albany 518 SNUG, October 9, 2020.[]
  142. See TCR Staff, “Byrne Grants Did Not Improve Police Effectiveness: Study,” The Crime Report, October 4, 2017, https://thecrimereport.org/2017/10/04/byrne-grants-did-not-improve-police-effectiveness-study/; Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program Fact Sheet,” United States Department of Justice, May 18, 2020, https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/jag-fact-sheet-5-2020.pdf.[]
  143. Patrick Sharkey, Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence (New York: W.W. Norton, 2018).[]
  144. Inimai Chettiar, Lauren-Brooke Eisen, Nicole Fortier, and Timothy Ross, “Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration,” Brennan Center for Justice, 2013,  https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/publications/REFORM_FUND_MASS_INCARC_web_0.pdf.[]
  145. Nathan James, “Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program,” Congressional Research Service, January 3, 2013, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS22416.pdf.[]
  146. 34 U.S. Code § 10152; see also Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance,”Purposes for Which Funds Awarded in the FY 2020 JAG Program May Be Used,” United States Department of Justice, 2020, https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/purposes-which-fy2020-jag-program-funds-may-be-used.pdf.[]
  147. 34 USC § 10152(a)(1).[]
  148. 34 USC § 10251(a)(1).[]
  149. In fact, there is only one category of expenditure that are expressly prohibited: “Any security enhancements or any equipment to any nongovernmental entity that is not engaged in criminal justice or public safety.” And a few items that are presumptively prohibited, but that may be approved by the attorney general under “extraordinary and exigent circumstances”: (A) vehicles (excluding police cruisers), vessels (excluding police boats), or aircraft (excluding police helicopters); (B) luxury items; (C) real estate; (D) construction projects (other than penal or correctional institutions); or (E) any similar matters. 34 USC §10152(d).[]
  150. Mike Crowley and Betsy Pearl, “Reimagining Federal Grants for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform,” Center for American Progress, October 7, 2020, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/criminal-justice/reports/2020/10/07/491314/reimagining-federal-grants-public-safety-criminal-justice-reform/.[]
  151. Id.[]
  152. Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program Fact Sheet,” United States Department of Justice, May 18, 2020, https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/jag-fact-sheet-5-2020.pdf.[]
  153. California Board of State and Community Corrections, “2018 JAG Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program,” accessed November 11, 2020, http://www.bscc.ca.gov/s_2018jag.[]
  154. Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, “Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG),” accessed November 11, 2020, https://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/law-enforcement/grants/byrne-justice-assistance-grant-program-jag.[]
  155. National Criminal Justice Association, “State Administering Agencies,” accessed November 11, 2020, https://www.ncja.org/agency-directory.[]
  156. Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program Fiscal Year 2020 Local Formula Solicitation,” United States Department of Justice, July 9, 2020, https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/bja-2020-17276.pdf.[]
  157. Id.[]
  158. Id.[]
  159. Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs),” United States Department of Justice, July 2020, https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/jag-faqs.pdf.[]
  160. Interview with Michael Green, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, September 24, 2020.[]
  161. Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, “Byrne/Justice Assistance Grant Solicitation,” amended July 19, 2019, https://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/sites/dcjs.virginia.gov/files/grants/byrnejustice-assistance-grant-solicitation-january-1-2020-june-30-2021/byrnejag-solicitation-guidelines-1-1-2020-6-30-2021.pdf.[]
  162. Jim Bueermann and Lauren-Brooke Eisen, “Let’s Reward Innovative Policing With Fed $$$,” The Crime Report, March 6, 2014, https://thecrimereport.org/2014/03/06/2014-03-lets-reward-innovative-policing-with-fed.[]
  163. National Criminal Justice Association, “Looking at the Data: How States Invest Byrne JAG,” accessed November 11, 2020, https://www.ncja.org/data-on-how-states-invest-byrne-jag.[]
  164. Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Justice Assistance Grant Program – Activity Report, Fiscal Year 2016,” United States Department of Justice, 2018, https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/Programs/JAG/JAG-FY2016-Activity-Report_508.pdf.[]
  165. Ed Chung, Betsy Pearl, and Lea Hunter, “The 1994 Crime Bill Continues to Undercut Justice Reform—Here’s How to Stop It,” Center for American Progress, March 26, 2019, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/criminal-justice/reports/2019/03/26/467486/1994-crime-bill-continues-undercut-justice-reform-heres-stop.[]
  166. Drug Policy Alliance, “Federal Byrne Grants: Drug War Funds Available for Drug Treatment,” September 2010, https://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/FactSheet_ByrneJAG_Sept.%202010.pdf.[]
  167. Id.[]
  168. Id.[]
  169. Open Justice, “Arrests Reported from 2010 to 2019,” accessed November 11, 2020, https://openjustice.doj.ca.gov/data-stories/2018/arrests-reported-2010-2019.[]
  170. “Fatal Injury Data,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2010–2018, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.[]
  171. Id.[]
  172. Drug Policy Alliance, “Federal Byrne Grants: Drug War Funds Available for Drug Treatment,” September 2010, https://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/FactSheet_ByrneJAG_Sept.%202010.pdf; Justice Policy Institute, “Recovery Money for Byrne JAG Won’t Stimulate Greater Public Safety,” October 2010, http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/.[]
  173. “Fatal Injury Data,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2005, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.[]
  174. Id.[]
  175. Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, “Our Team,” accessed November 11, 2020, https://efsgv.org/about-us/our-team.[]
  176. Interview with Lori Haas, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, September 14, 2020.[]
  177. Id.[]
  178. Id.[]
  179. Interview with Ari Davis, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, July 24, 2020.[]
  180. Interview with Lori Haas, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, September 14, 2020.[]
  181. Virginia Office of the Governor, “Governor Northam Announces Grant Funding for Community-Based Violence Intervention Programs,” July 8, 2019, https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2019/july/headline-841499-en.html.[]
  182. Id.[]
  183. Interview with Ari Davis, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, July 24, 2020; interview with Lori Haas, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, September 14, 2020.[]
  184. Deborah Azrael, Anthony A. Braga, and Mallory O’Brien, “Developing the Capacity to Understand and Prevent Homicide: An Evaluation of the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission,” United States Department of Justice, National Criminal Justice Reference Service, January 2013, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/240814.pdf.[]
  185. Interview with Ari Davis, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, July 24, 2020.[]
  186. Mike McLively and Brittany Nieto, “A Case Study in Hope: Lessons from Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence,” Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, April 23, 2019,  https://giffords.org/lawcenter/report/a-case-study-in-hope-lessons-from-oaklands-remarkable-reduction-in-gun-violence.[]
  187. Erin Patterson, “Gov. Northam announces $8.79 millions in grants for law enforcement, community-based criminal justice programs,” WVEC-TV13, October 10, 2019, https://www.13newsnow.com/article/news/politics/8-million-in-grants-for-law-enforcement-community-based-criminal-justice-programs/291-1e67e2d3-3297-4b4a-99ad-193e938ec065.[]
  188. Interview with Ari Davis, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, July 24, 2020; interview with Lori Haas, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, September 14, 2020.[]
  189. Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019); Mike McLively and Brittany Nieto, “A Case Study in Hope: Lessons from Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence,” Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, April 23, 2019, https://giffords.org/lawcenter/report/a-case-study-in-hope-lessons-from-oaklands-remarkable-reduction-in-gun-violence.[]
  190. Thomas Abt and Christopher Winship, “What Works in Reducing Community Violence: A Meta-Review and Field Study for the Northern Triangle,” Democracy International, Inc., February 2016, https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/USAID-2016-What-Works-in-Reducing-Community-Violence-Final-Report.pdf; Giffords Law Center, “Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State-Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence,” December 18, 2017, https://giffords.org/lawcenter/report/investing-intervention-critical-role-state-level-support-breaking-cycle-urban-gun-violence; Arnold Chandler, “Interventions For Reducing Violence And Its Consequences For Young Black Males In America,” Cities United, August 2017, https://bma.issuelab.org/resources/29605/29605.pdf; “Strategies for Reducing Gun Violence in American Cities,” Everytown for Gun Safety, June, 2016, https://everytownresearch.org/reports/strategies-for-reducing-gun-violence-in-american-cities.[]
  191. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Healing Communities in Crisis: Lifesaving Solutions to the Urban Gun Violence Epidemic,” March 10, 2016, http://lawcenter.giffords.org/healing-communities.[]
  192. Art Acevedo, Steven Casstevens, and Sylvia Moir, “Police Chiefs: ‘We can’t arrest our way out of societal problems’—Invest in families, communities to prevent crime,” Houston Chronicle, September 10, 2020, https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Police-chiefs-We-can-t-arrest-our-way-out-15554272.php.[]
  193. National Criminal Justice Association, “Looking at the Data: How States Invest Byrne JAG,” accessed November 17, 2020, https://www.ncja.org/data-on-how-states-invest-byrne-jag.[]
  194. A 2015 evaluation of gang and drug task forces in Oklahoma found that, because of a lack of oversight and informal monitoring practices, “it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of task forces in the communities they serve.” Oklahoma Statistical Analysis Center, “Evaluation of the Multijurisdictional Drug and Violent Crime Task Forces in Oklahoma,” May 2015, https://osbi.ok.gov/sites/g/files/gmc476/f/publications/2018/07/Task_Force_05.19.15.pdf.[]
  195. William Rhodes, et al., “Evaluation of the Multijurisdictional Task Forces (MJTFs), Phase II: MJTF Performance Monitoring Guide,” United States Department of Justice, December 2009, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/228942.pdf.[]
  196. 34 USC § 10152.[]
  197. Mission Analytics Group, Inc., “Juvenile Alternatives to Suspension (JASP) Evaluation,” updated July 2018, http://www.bscc.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/JAG-Final-Evaluations-San-Francisco-JASP-Final-Report-7_2018.pdf.[]
  198. 34 USC § 10153.[]
  199. Thomas Abt and Christopher Winship, “What Works in Reducing Community Violence: A Meta-Review and Field Study for the Northern Triangle,” Democracy International, Inc., February 2016, https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/USAID-2016-What-Works-in-Reducing-Community-Violence-Final-Report.pdf.[]
  200. National Criminal Justice Association, “State Administering Agencies,” accessed November 11, 2020, https://www.ncja.org/agency-directory.[]
  201. Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, “FY 2020 Allocations and Disparate Information,” United States Department of Justice, accessed November 11, 2020, https://bja.ojp.gov/program/jag/fy-2020-allocations-and-disparate-information.[]
  202. California Board of State and Community Corrections, “Board of State and Community Corrections Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Executive Steering Committee,” September 2014, http://www.bscc.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/ESC-Member-List_Sept-2014.pdf. ESC recommendations are ultimately approved by the BSCC board, which creates yet another layer of potential advocacy, since board meetings are open to the public and to public comment.[]
  203. California Board of State and Community Corrections, “About Executive Steering Committees,” accessed November 11, 2020, http://www.bscc.ca.gov/s_bsccexecutivesteeringcommittees.[]
  204. For example, the City of Los Angeles in 2016 received $1.4M as a local recipient of Byrne JAG funding and the county received an additional $1.25M from the state’s Byrne JAG grant. Alexia D. Cooper, “Justice Assistance Grant Program, 2016,” United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, September 2016, https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/jagp16.pdf; California Board of State and Community Corrections, “2014-2018 JAG Grantee Program Descriptions,” August 1, 2018, http://www.bscc.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014-18-JAG-Project-Descriptions-8.1.18.pdf.[]
  205. Alia Paavola, “The importance of preventive care strategies in a changing healthcare environment,” Becker’s Hospital Review, September 19, 2017, https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/care-coordination/the-importance-of-preventive-care-strategies-in-a-changing-healthcare-environment.html.[]
  206. Patrick Sharkey, Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018); Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019).[]
  207. Ed Chung, Betsy Pearl, and Lea Hunter, “The 1994 Crime Bill Continues to Undercut Justice Reform—Here’s How to Stop It,” Center for American Progress, March 26, 2019, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/criminal-justice/reports/2019/03/26/467486/1994-crime-bill-continues-undercut-justice-reform-heres-stop; Jesse Jannetta, Leah Sakala, and Fernando Rejón, “Federal Investment in Community-Driven Public Safety,” Urban Institute, September 2020, https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/102877/federal-investment-in-community-driven-public-safety.pdf.[]
  208. 34 USC § 10153(a)(3)(B).[]
  209. 34 USC § 10153(a)(6)(A).[]
  210. “Crime Survivors Speak: The First-Ever National Survey of Victims’ Views on Safety and Justice,” Alliance for Safety and Justice, accessed November 11, 2020, https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Crime-Survivors-Speak-Report-1.pdf.[]
  211. This could be achieved partly by the deletion of the clause in section 10153(a)(6)(A) that states “to the extent applicable law or established procedure makes such an opportunity available.” 34 USC § 10153(a)(3)(B).[]
  212. Cal. Penal Code § 6025(a)(10); see also Board of State and Community Corrections, “Board of State and Community Corrections Member Composition,” accessed November 17, 2020, http://bscc.ca.gov/s_compositionoftheboard.[]
  213. Patrick Sharkey, Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018).[]
  214. In 2011, the Heritage Foundation called for Congress to eliminate JAG grants altogether. David Muhlhausen, “Get Out of Jail Free: Taxpayer-Funded Grants Place Criminals on the Street Without Posting Bail,” The Heritage Foundation, September 12, 2011, https://www.heritage.org/crime-and-justice/report/get-out-jail-free-taxpayer-funded-grants-place-criminals-the-street.[]
  215. National Criminal Justice Association, “Looking at the Data: How States Invest Byrne JAG,” accessed November 11, 2020, https://www.ncja.org/data-on-how-states-invest-byrne-jag.[]
  216. Lauren-Brooke Eisen and Inimai M. Chettiar, “Justice Department Takes Steps to Reform Grant Program Incentives,” Brennan Center for Justice, November 18, 2014, https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/justice-department-takes-steps-reform-grant-program-incentives.[]
  217. Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, “State and Territory Fact Sheets,” Department of Justice, accessed November 11, 2020, https://bjafactsheets.iir.com.[]
  218. Inimai Chettiar, Lauren-Brooke Eisen, Nicole Fortier, and Timothy Ross, “Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration,” Brennan Center for Justice, 2013,  https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/publications/REFORM_FUND_MASS_INCARC_web_0.pdf.[]
  219. Jim Bueermann and Lauren-Brooke Eisen, “Let’s Reward Innovative Policing With Fed $$$,” The Crime Report, March 6, 2014, https://thecrimereport.org/2014/03/06/2014-03-lets-reward-innovative-policing-with-fed.[]
  220. See, e.g., Christopher M. Sullivan and Zachary P. O’Keeffe, “Evidence that curtailing proactive policing can reduce major crime,” Nature Human Behavior 1, 730–737, September 25, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-017-0211-5; Brenden Beck and Aya Gruber, “Facts about defunding police departments,” New York Daily News, June 15, 2020, https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-facts-about-defunding-police-departments-20200615-fvqkukbngbb2bko3tev5fq52oe-story.html; TCR Staff, “Byrne Grants Did Not Improve Police Effectiveness: Study,” The Crime Report, October 4, 2017, https://thecrimereport.org/2017/10/04/byrne-grants-did-not-improve-police-effectiveness-study/#:~:text=%E2%80%9COur%20results%20indicate%20that%20for,residents%2C%E2%80%9D%20the%20authors%20wrote.[]
  221. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Proactive Policing: Effects on Crime and Communities (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2018).[]
  222. National Criminal Justice Association, “The Impact of the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program: How Byrne JAG is Changing the Criminal Justice System,” accessed November 17, 2020, https://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/System-Change-Through-the-Byrne-JAG-Program-NCJA-10-13.pdf.[]
  223. Jon Frank, “Justice Department Issues Changes to Largest Criminal Justice Grant,” Brennan Center for Justice, January 8, 2016, https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/justice-department-issues-changes-largest-criminal-justice-grant.[]
  224. Mike Crowley and Betsy Pearl, “Reimagining Federal Grants for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform,” Center for American Progress, October 7, 2020, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/criminal-justice/reports/2020/10/07/491314/reimagining-federal-grants-public-safety-criminal-justice-reform/.[]
  225. Office of the Inspector General, “Top Management And Performance Challenges Facing the Department Of Justice,” United States Department of Justice, November 10, 2015, https://www.oversight.gov/sites/default/files/oig-reports/2015.pdf.[]
  226. Mike Crowley and Betsy Pearl, “Reimagining Federal Grants for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform,” Center for American Progress, October 7, 2020, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/criminal-justice/reports/2020/10/07/491314/reimagining-federal-grants-public-safety-criminal-justice-reform.[]
  227. Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019), 33.[]
  228. Bruce Frederick, “Measuring Public Safety: Responsibly Interpreting Statistics on Violent Crime,” Vera Evidence Brief, July 2017, https://www.vera.org/downloads/publications/for-the-record-measuring-public-safety_02.pdf.[]
  229. Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019); Connie Rice, Susan Lee, Maribel Meza, and Caneel Fraser, “A Call to Action, Los Angeles’ Quest to Achieve Community Safety,” Advancement Project, accessed November 17, 2020, https://b.3cdn.net/advancement/3befc24b892ae0e21a_czm62sbvo.pdf.[]
  230. Donald Trump, “Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” January 25, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-enhancing-public-safety-interior-united-states.[]
  231. Ripon Advance News Service, “Blunt leads senatorial push to restore Byrne JAG Program funding for law-abiding states,” The Ripon Advance, January 16, 2018, https://riponadvance.com/stories/blunt-leads-senatorial-push-restore-byrne-jag-program-funding-law-abiding-states.[]
  232. New York State Attorney General, “Attorney General James Leads Coalition of 15 AGs in Brief to Protect Critical Law Enforcement Funding From Trump Administration’s Unconstitutional Overreach,” May 30, 2019, https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/2019/attorney-general-james-leads-coalition-15-ags-brief-protect-critical-law.[]
  233. City of L.A. v. Barr, 941 F.3d 931 (9th Cir. 2019).[]
  234. Interview with Michael Green, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, September 24, 2020.[]
  235. Ripon Advance News Service, “Blunt leads senatorial push to restore Byrne JAG Program funding for law-abiding states,” The Ripon Advance, January 16, 2018, https://riponadvance.com/stories/blunt-leads-senatorial-push-restore-byrne-jag-program-funding-law-abiding-states.[]
  236. Dick Durbin, “Lawmakers Call Out Session For Holding City Violence Prevention Funds Hostage To His Extreme Immigration Agenda,” accessed November 11, 2020, https://www.durbin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/lawmakers-call-out-sessions-for-holding-city-violence-prevention-funds-hostage-to-his-extreme-immigration-agenda.[]
  237. Illinois Attorney General, “Attorney General Raoul Secures $6.6 Million in Federal Funding for Illinois Law Enforcement,” October 25, 2019,  https://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/pressroom/2019_10/20191025.html.[]
  238. City of L.A. v. Barr, 941 F.3d 931 (9th Cir. 2019).[]
  239. Complaint at 1, State of New York v. US Department of Justice, IM-NY-0066 (S.D.N.Y.).[]
  240. Congressional Research Service, “Immigration Enforcement & the Anti-Commandeering Doctrine: Recent Litigation on State Information-Sharing Restrictions,” updated March 10, 2020, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/LSB10386.pdf; “Because none of DOJ’s proffered bases for statutory authority gives the Attorney General or the Assistant AG the power to impose the notice and access conditions, the conditions are ultra vires.” City of L.A. v. Barr, 941 F.3d 931 (9th Cir. 2019).[]
  241. During the early 2000s in upstate New York, 50 grams of crack cocaine was valued between $2,500 to $6,200 or $50 to $125 per gram. National Intelligence Center, “Cocaine,” New York Drug Threat Assessment, November 2002, https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs2/2580/cocaine.html.[]
  242. Carl Bialik, “In the Shadow of Exile,” FiveThirtyEight, accessed November 11, 2020, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/homicide-in-rochester.[]
  243. Steven Raphael and Jens Ludwig, “Prison Sentence Enhancements: The Case of Project Exile,” in Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003), 274–77, https://gspp.berkeley.edu/assets/uploads/research/pdf/Exile_chapter_2003.pdf.[]
  244. Carl Bialik, “In the Shadow of Exile,” FiveThirtyEight, accessed November 11, 2020, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/homicide-in-rochester/.[]
  245. Id.[]
  246. Carl Bialik, “In the Shadow of Exile,” FiveThirtyEight, accessed November 11, 2020, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/homicide-in-rochester/; for example, the New York Penal Code classifies first-degree manslaughter as a class B felony with a maximum prison sentence of 25 years. NYPL §125.20.[]
  247. United States v. Sampson, 360 F. Supp. 3d 168 (W.D.N.Y. 2019).[]
  248. Rochester First, “Rochester native, ‘survivor of Project Exile’ shares thoughts on race relations,” Nextstar Media Group, Inc., July 24, 2020, https://www.rochesterfirst.com/community/rochester-native-survivor-of-project-exile-shares-thoughts-on-race-relations/.[]
  249. Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, “The Project Safe Neighborhoods FY 2020 Formula Grant Solicitation,” United States Department of Justice, April 2, 2020, https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/bja-2020-17027.pdf.[]
  250. At least thirty percent of grants are required to be awarded to “Gang Task Forces” in regions experiencing a significant or increased presence of organized violent crime, firearm offenses, human trafficking, or drug trafficking. 34 U.S. Code § 60704(c).[]
  251. John Ashcroft, “Attorney General Remarks: Project Safe Neighborhoods Unveiling,” United States Department of Justice, May 14, 2001, https://www.justice.gov/archive/ag/speeches/2001/0514safe_neighborhoods.html.[]
  252. For the fiscal year 2021, the president’s budget requests $40 million to carry out PSN, which would amount to an average of about $425,000 per district. Office of Justice Programs, “FY 2021 Performance Budget,” United States Department of Justice, February 2020, https://www.justice.gov/doj/page/file/1246736/download.[]
  253. “Project Safe Neighborhoods,” United States Department of Justice, accessed November 11, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/psn.[]
  254. Both the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Violence have expressed support for PSN. Steven Raphael and Jens Ludwig, “Prison Sentence Enhancements: The Case of Project Exile,” in Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003), 274–77, https://gspp.berkeley.edu/assets/uploads/research/pdf/Exile_chapter_2003.pdf; See also Olivia Li, “Tim Kaine and Donald Trump Have Touted the Same Gun Violence Program. There’s No Evidence That It Works,” The Trace, August 16, 2016, https://www.thetrace.org/2016/08/tim-kaine-donald-trump-project-exile/.[]
  255. PSN has also received criticism from groups ranging in ideology, from the Cato Institute to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Gene Healy, “There Goes the Neighborhood: The Bush-Ashcroft Plan to “Help” Localities Fight Gun Crime,” Cato Institute, March 28, 2002, https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/there-goes-neighborhood-bushashcroft-plan-help-localities-fight-gun-crime; Kanya Bennett, “The House Could Soon Give Jeff Sessions $50 Million to Wage the War on Drugs,” American Civil Liberties Union, May 25, 2018, https://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police/house-could-soon-give-jeff-sessions-50-million-wage-war.[]
  256. Edmund F. McGarrell, et al., “Project Safe Neighborhoods – A National Program to Reduce Gun Crime: Final Project Report,” National Criminal Justice Reference Service, April 2009, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/226686.pdf.[]
  257. See Northern Alabama; George Joseph, “Jeff Sessions’ Gun Prosecution Machine Goes After Many Black Nonviolent Offenders,” Slate, November 21, 2018, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/11/jeff-sessions-gun-prosecutions.html. Sandusky, Ohio; Register, “U.S. attorney’s office announces record violent crime indictments,” Sandusky Register, October 24, 2019,  https://sanduskyregister.com/news/85992/us-attorneys-office-announces-record-violent-crime-indictment. Albany, Georgia; Kim McCullough, “20 offenders in custody after Operation Peacekeeper,” WALB News 10, November 15, 2019, https://www.walb.com/2019/11/15/offenders-custody-after-operation-peacekeeper.[]
  258. Samuel Peterson, “Law Enforcement Approaches for Reducing Gun Violence,” RAND Corporation, April 22, 2020,  https://www.rand.org/research/gun-policy/analysis/essays/law-enforcement-approaches-for-reducing-gun-violence.html.[]
  259. “Fatal Injury Data,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2001–2018, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.[]
  260. George W. Bush, “Remarks by the President on Project Safe Neighborhoods,” George W. Bush White House Archives, May 14, 2001, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/05/20010514-1.html.[]
  261. Richard Rosenfeld, Robert Fornango, and Eric Baumer, “Did Ceasefire, Compstat, and Exile Reduce Homicide?” Criminology & Public Policy 4 no. 3 (2005): 419–449, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-9133.2005.00310.x; Anthony A. Braga, David M. Kennedy, Elin J. Waring, and Anne Morrison Piehl, “Problem-oriented Policing, Deterrence, And Youth Violence: An Evaluation Of Boston’s Operation Ceasefire,” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 38, no. 3 (2001): 195–225, https://www.innovations.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/Braga_problem_oriented%20policing_deterrence.pdf.[]
  262. Crime Solutions, “Project Safe Neighborhoods (National Evaluation),” National Institute of Justice, accessed November 13, 2020, https://crimesolutions.ojp.gov/rated-programs#-1.[]
  263. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “Project Exile, U.S. Attorney’s Office—Eastern District of Virginia,” Office of Justice Programs, accessed November 13, 2020,  https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh176/files/pubs/gun_violence/profile38.html#:~:text=Project%20Exile%20is%20a%20coordinated,of%20Investigation%3B%20and%20Virginia%20State.[]
  264. Michelle Alexander and Cornel West, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindess (New York: The New Press, 2010).[]
  265. “Most of the additional federal convictions under Exile appear to be FIP cases.” Steven Raphael and Jens Ludwig, “Prison Sentence Enhancements: The Case of Project Exile,” in Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003), 274–77, https://gspp.berkeley.edu/assets/uploads/research/pdf/Exile_chapter_2003.pdf.[]
  266. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “In Pursuit of Peace: Building Police-Community Trust to Break the Cycle of Violence,” January 17, 2020, www.giffords.org/policing; Jill Leovy, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015); Sarah Ryley, “Most Shooters Go Free in Chicago’s Most Violent Neighborhoods—While Police Make Non-Stop Drug Arrests,” The Trace, November 11, 2019, https://www.thetrace.org/2019/11/most-shooters-go-free-in-chicagos-most-violent-neighborhoods-while-police-make-non-stop-drug-arrests.[]
  267. Carl Bialik, “In the Shadow of Exile,” FiveThirtyEight, accessed November 11, 2020, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/homicide-in-rochester/.[]
  268. Steven Raphael and Jens Ludwig, “Prison Sentence Enhancements: The Case of Project Exile,” in Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003), 274–77, https://gspp.berkeley.edu/assets/uploads/research/pdf/Exile_chapter_2003.pdf.[]
  269. Id.[]
  270. Id.[]
  271. Carl Bialik, “In the Shadow of Exile,” FiveThirtyEight, accessed November 11, 2020, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/homicide-in-rochester/.[]
  272. Id.[]
  273. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Uniform Crime Reporting Program Data: Offenses Known to Law Enforcement, Table 8,” United States Department of Justice, 1997, 2005–18, accessed October 9, 2019, https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018/tables/table-8/table-8-state-cuts/massachusetts.xls.[]
  274. National Network For Safe Communities, “Group Violence Intervention, An Implementation Guide,” Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Revised 2016, https://nnscommunities.org/guides/group-violence-intervention-an-implementation-guide-2.[]
  275. David Weisburd, et al., Place Matters: Criminology For The Twenty-first Century (Cambridge Univ. Press: 2016). See Stephen Lurie, et al., “The Less Than 1%: Groups and the Extreme Concentration of Urban Violence,” National Network for Safe Communities (forthcoming); Stephen Lurie, Alexis Acevedo, and Kyle Ott, “Presentation: The Less Than 1%: Groups and the Extreme Concentration of Urban Violence,” National Network for Safe Communities, November 14, 2018, https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/files/nnsc_gmi_concentration_asc_v1.91.pdf.[]
  276. National Network For Safe Communities, “Group Violence Intervention, An Implementation Guide,” Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Revised 2016, https://nnscommunities.org/guides/group-violence-intervention-an-implementation-guide-2.[]
  277. Mike McLively and Brittany Nieto, “A Case Study in Hope: Lessons from Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence,” Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, April 23, 2019, https://giffords.org/lawcenter/report/a-case-study-in-hope-lessons-from-oaklands-remarkable-reduction-in-gun-violence; see also National Network For Safe Communities, “Group Violence Intervention, An Implementation Guide,” Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Revised 2016, https://nnscommunities.org/guides/group-violence-intervention-an-implementation-guide-2.[]
  278. Anthony A. Braga, David M. Kennedy, Elin J. Waring, and Anne Morrison Piehl, “Problem-oriented Policing, Deterrence, And Youth Violence: An Evaluation Of Boston’s Operation Ceasefire,” Journal of Research In Crime And Delinquency 38 no. 3 (2001), https://www.innovations.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/Braga_problem_oriented%20policing_deterrence.pdf.[]
  279. See National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College, “Results,” accessed November 13, 2020, https://nnscommunities.org/impact/results/.[]
  280. Anthony A. Braga and David L. Weisburd, “The Effects of ‘Pulling Levers’ Focused Deterrence Strategies on Crime,” Campbell Systematic Reviews 8, no. 6 (2012): 1–90, https://campbellcollaboration.org/library/pulling-levers-focused-deterrence-strategies-effects-on-crime.html.[]
  281. Anthony A. Braga, David L. Weisburd, and Brandon Turchan, “Focused deterrence strategies effects on crime,” Campbell Collaboration, September 9, 2019, https://campbellcollaboration.org/better-evidence/focused-deterrence-strategies-effects-on-crime.html.[]
  282. Anthony Braga, David L Weisburd, and Brandon Turchan, “Focused Deterrence Strategies and Crime Control: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Evidence,” Criminology & Public Policy 17 (2018): 205–250. doi:10.1111/1745-9133.12353.[]
  283. Steven Raphael and Jens Ludwig, “Prison Sentence Enhancements: The Case of Project Exile,” in Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003), https://gspp.berkeley.edu/assets/uploads/research/pdf/Exile_chapter_2003.pdf; Edmund F. McGarrell, et al., “Project Safe Neighborhoods – A National Program to Reduce Gun Crime: Final Project Report,” National Criminal Justice Reference Service, April 2009,  https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/226686.pdf; Richard Rosenfeld, Robert Fornango, and Eric Buamer, “Did Ceasefire, Compstat, and Exile Reduce Homicide?”, Criminology & Public Policy 4, no. 3, (2005): 419–450. []
  284. Carl Bialik, “In the Shadow of Exile,” FiveThirtyEight, accessed November 11, 2020, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/homicide-in-rochester/.[]
  285. National Research Council, “The Crime Prevention Effects of Incarceration,” in The Growth of Incarceration in the United States 156, eds. J. Travis, B. Western, & S. Redbumeds, (2014), 156, https://www.nap.edu/read/18613/chapter/7#156; see also Edward K. Chung, “Project Safe Neighborhoods: A Targeted And Comprehensive Approach?” Federal Sentencing Reporter 30, no. 3 (2018).[]
  286. National Institute of Justice, “Crime Solutions,” accessed November 16, 2020, www.crimesolutions.ojp.gov.[]
  287. 107 P.L. 273, 116 Stat. 1758 § 104 (2002).[]
  288. United States Department of Justice, “Project Safe Neighborhoods: America’s Network Against Gun Violence Implementation Guide for PSN Partners: Tool Kit,” May 2001, https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/psn_toolkit.pdf.[]
  289. Edmund F. McGarrell, et al., “Project Safe Neighborhoods – A National Program to Reduce Gun Crime: Final Project Report,” April 2009, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/226686.pdf.[]
  290. Id.[]
  291. Id.[]
  292. Carl Bialik, “In the Shadow of Exile,” FiveThirtyEight, accessed November 13, 2020, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/homicide-in-rochester.[]
  293. Syracuse University, “Federal Weapons Prosecutions Rise for Third Consecutive Year,” TRAC Reports, November 29, 2017, https://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/crim/492/; Syracuse University, Federal Weapons Enforcement: A Moving Target,” TRAC Reports, February 13, 2013, https://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/crim/307/.[]
  294. “Fatal Injury Data,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2001–2018, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.[]
  295. United States Sentencing Commission, “Quick Facts, Felon in Possession of a Firearm,” accessed November 13, 2020, https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/research-and-publications/quick-facts/Felon_In_Possession_FY19.pdf; United States Census Bureau, “ACS 5-Year Estimates Comparison Profiles,” 2018, https://data.census.gov.[]
  296. Steven Raphael and Jens Ludwig, “Prison Sentence Enhancements: The Case of Project Exile,” in Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003), https://gspp.berkeley.edu/assets/uploads/research/pdf/Exile_chapter_2003.pdf; National Research Council, “The Crime Prevention Effects of Incarceration,” in The Growth of Incarceration in the United States 156, eds. J. Travis, B. Western, & S. Redbumeds (2014), 156, https://www.nap.edu/read/18613/chapter/7#156; see also Edward K. Chung, “Project Safe Neighborhoods: A Targeted And Comprehensive Approach?” Federal Sentencing Reporter 30, no. 3 (2018).[]
  297. Syracuse University, “Weapons Convictions for 2020,” TRAC Reports, June 22, 2020, https://tracfed.syr.edu/results/9x705ef15bb892.html.[]
  298. Giffords analysis of FBI UCR crime data from cities with populations over 100,000. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Crime in the U.S. 1998–2018,” accessed September 2, 2020, https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s.[]
  299. Rep. David Reichert, “To reduce gun violence, we must look to the past,” The Hill, February 29, 2016, https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/270957-to-reduce-gun-violence-we-must-look-to-the-past.[]
  300. “Remarks of Laurie Robinson, Office of Justice Programs,” 2010 Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference, July 14, 2010, https://www.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh241/files/archives/speeches/2010/10_0714lrobinson.html.[]
  301. Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction Program (Project Safe Neighborhoods) FY 2012 Competitive Grant Announcement,” United States Department of Justice, April 17, 2012, https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/12PSNsol.pdf.[]
  302. Bureau of Justice Assistance, “BJA FY 12 Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction Program (Project Safe Neighborhoods): Category 2: 2 million-4,999,999,” April 17, 2012, https://bja.ojp.gov/funding/opportunities/bja-2012-3302.[]
  303. Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction Program (Project Safe Neighborhoods) FY 2016 Competitive Grant Announcement,” United States Department of Justice, February 16, 2016, https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/BJA-2016-9202.pdf; Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Violent Gang And Gun Crime Reduction Program (PSN),” February 16, 2016, https://bja.ojp.gov/funding/opportunities/bja-2016-9202.[]
  304. Syracuse University, “Ten Year Decline of Fed. Weapons Convictions,” TRAC Reports, October 27, 2015, https://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/crim/409/.[]
  305. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Crime in the U.S. 1998–2018,” accessed August 27, 2020, https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018/topic-pages/tables/table-1.[]
  306. Syracuse University, “Weapons Convictions for 2020,” TRAC Reports, June 22, 2020, https://tracfed.syr.edu/results/9x705ef15bb892.html.[]
  307. Lois Beckett, “How the Gun Control Debate Ignores Black Lives,” ProPublica, November 24, 2015, https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-gun-control-debate-ignores-black-lives.[]
  308. Giffords Law Center, “In Pursuit of Peace: Building Police-Community Trust to Break the Cycle of Violence,” January 17, 2020, https://giffords.org/lawcenter/report/in-pursuit-of-peace-building-police-community-trust-to-break-the-cycle-of-violence/.[]
  309. Richard Rosenfeld, et al., “Assessing and Responding to the Recent Homicide Rise in the United States,” National Institute of Justice, November 2017, 16, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/251067.pdf.[]
  310. Carl Bialik, “In the Shadow of Exile,” FiveThirtyEight, accessed November 13, 2020, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/homicide-in-rochester.[]
  311. Office of the Attorney General, “Memorandum on Commitment to Targeting Violent Crime,” March 17, 2017, https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/946771/download.[]
  312. Office of Public Affairs, “Federal Gun Prosecutions Up 23 Percent After Sessions Memo,” United States Department of Justice, July 28, 2017, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/federal-gun-prosecutions-23-percent-after-sessions-memo.[]
  313. Id.[]
  314. George Joseph, “Jeff Sessions’ Gun Prosecution Machine Goes After Many Black Nonviolent Offenders,” Slate, November 21, 2018, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/11/jeff-sessions-gun-prosecutions.html.[]
  315. Id.; See also Syracuse University, “Federal Weapons Prosecutions Rise for Third Consecutive Year,” TRAC Reports, November 29, 2017, https://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/crim/492/.[]
  316. United States Sentencing Commission, “Quick Facts, Felon in Possession of a Firearm,” accessed November 17, 2020, https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/research-and-publications/quick-facts/Felon_In_Possession_FY18.pdf.[]
  317. Id.[]
  318. 34 U.S.C. § 60703(a).[]
  319. Id.[]
  320. United States Department of Justice, “Project Safe Neighborhoods, One Year Progress Report,” March 2019, https://www.justice.gov/file/1149381/download.[]
  321. Syracuse University, “Federal Weapons Prosecutions Continue to Climb in 2019,” TRAC Reports, June 9, 2019, https://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/crim/560/.[]
  322. Id.[]
  323. Office of Public Affairs, “Justice Department Charges More than 14,200 Defendants with Firearms-Related Crimes in FY20,” United States Department of Justice, October 13, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-charges-more-14200-defendants-firearms-related-crimes-fy20.[]
  324. 34 U.S.C. § 60705.[]
  325. Syracuse University, “Weapons Convictions for 2020,” TRAC Reports, June 22, 2020, https://tracfed.syr.edu/results/9x705ef15bb892.html.[]
  326. See Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Crime in the U.S. 1998–2018,” accessed September 2, 2020, https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018/topic-pages/tables/table-1. Notably, a spike in violent crime occurred in 2016, ostensibly related to the 2016 election cycle. This high volume of crime stagnated and then diminished in 2018. See United States Department of Justice, “Project Safe Neighborhoods, One Year Progress Report,” March 2019, https://www.justice.gov/file/1149381/download (claiming PSN is responsible for decreasing in crimes in PSN target areas). Although the violent crime rate between 2017 and 2018 decreased by 3.3 per 100,000, the same metric for the period spanning 2014 to 2018 actually increased by 4.7 percent—thus showing an overall increase in violent crime as presidential administrations changed during this time.[]
  327. Sean Went, Interim Chief of Police, “Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Grant Funds,” City of Oakland Agenda Report, February 14, 2014, https://oakland.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=2941288&GUID=C0562F67-FBED-4BFE-B611-E655D7F70E21&G=undefined.[]
  328. Erin Aslan, “Violence Reduction Through Community Engagement: The Omaha 360 Violence Prevention Collaborative,” DOJ J. FED. L. & PRAC. 66, no. 6 (2018): 119–129, https://psn.cj.msu.edu/tta/Publication-%20Nov2018.pdf.[]
  329. Government of the District of Columbia, Executive Office Of The Mayor, Office Of Victim Services And Justice Grants, “Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Support Funding for FY2020 Request for Applications (RFA),” accessed November 13, 2020, https://ovsjg.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ovsjg/page_content/attachments/PSN%20Final%20RFA%208-12-19.pdf.[]
  330. Andrew V. Papachristos, Tracey L. Meares, and Jeffrey Fagan, “Attention Felons: Evaluating Project Safe Neighborhoods in Chicago,” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 4 no. 2 (2007), 223–272, https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndil/page/file/1176621/download.[]
  331. Sara R. Jeffries, David L. Myers, Anne Kringen, and Ronald W. Schack, “Connecticut Project Safe Neighborhoods 2016: A Youth Opportunity Initiative,” June 10, 2019, https://www.ebpsociety.org/blog/education/366-connecticut-project-safe-neighborhoods.[]
  332. Mike McLively and Britany Nieto, Giffords Law Center, “A Case Study In Hope: Lessons from Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence,” April 23, 2019, https://giffords.org/lawcenter/report/a-case-study-in-hope-lessons-from-oaklands-remarkable-reduction-in-gun-violence.[]
  333. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted much of the work being done by violence interruption workers in 2020. This disruption, in addition to economic upheaval and high-profile instances of police brutality, have contributed to rising numbers of fatal and nonfatal shootings in many cities across the nation, including Oakland, in 2020.[]
  334. Anthony A. Braga, et al., “Oakland Ceasefire Impact Evaluation: Key Findings,” Northeastern University and Rutgers University, August 10, 2018, https://p.eastbayexpress.com/media/pdf/oakland_ceasefire_impact_evaluation_key_findings.pdf.[]
  335. Oakland Police Department, “2016-2018 Racial Impact Report,” accessed November 13, 2020, https://cao-94612.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/OPD-Racial-Impact-Report-2016-2018-Final-16Apr19.pdf.[]
  336. It should be noted that OPD’s official numbers may be underreported. An inquiry by the Office of the Inspector General analyzed 47 encounters with police and found that officers failed to report use of force in over a third (36%) of these incidents. Ali Tadayon, “Audit: Oakland police use of force often unreported in 2018,” East Bay Times, August 1, 2019, https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2019/08/01/audit-oakland-police-use-of-force-often-unreported-in-2018/; “OPD Use of Force in Policing: 2012–2017,” Oakland Police Department, City of Oakland, https://data.oaklandnet.com/dataset/OPD-Use-of-Force-2012-2017/2748-ze8w?referrer=embed; Office of Mayor Libby Schaaf, “Principled Policing: The Mayor’s 2017 Q3 & Q4 Police Accountability Report,” City of Oakland, January 15, 2018, https://www.oaklandca.gov/news/2018/principledpolicing-the-mayors-2017-q3-q4-police-accountability-report.[]
  337. Oakland Police Department, “2016-2018 Racial Impact Report,” accessed November 13, 2020, https://cao-94612.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/OPD-Racial-Impact-Report-2016-2018-Final-16Apr19.pdf.[]
  338. The 2014 Oakland Public Safety and Services Violence Prevention Act, City of Oakland, http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca1/groups/cityadministrator/documents/report/OAK063829.pdf. []
  339. California Board of State and Community Corrections, “California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program,” accessed November 13, 2020, http://www.bscc.ca.gov/s_cpgpcalvipgrant.[]
  340. Interview with Reygan Cunningham, California Partnership for Safe Communities, January 31, 2020.[]
  341. Id.[]
  342. Id.[]
  343. 34 U.S. Code § 6070.[]
  344. Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, “The Project Safe Neighborhoods FY 2020 Formula Grant Solicitation,” United States Department of Justice, April 2, 2020, https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/bja-2020-17027.pdf.[]
  345. Id.[]
  346. Id.[]
  347. Id.[]
  348. Massachusetts.gov, “Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN),” accessed November 13, 2020, https://www.mass.gov/service-details/project-safe-neighborhoods-psn.[]
  349. Id.[]
  350. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Public Safety & Security Office of Grants and Research, “United States Attorney’s Project Safe Neighborhoods ‘Post-Incarceration Reentry Services to Reduce Recidivism in the City of Boston,’” April 24, 2020, https://www.mass.gov/doc/psn-reentry-availability-of-grant-funding-agf/download?_ga=2.103917888.1303037457.1605557651-565221145.1603927278.[]
  351. 34 U.S.C. § 60703(a).[]
  352. Wesley Lowery, Kimbriell Kelly, and Steven Rich, “Murder with Impunity: An Unequal Justice,” The Washington Post, July 25, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/investigations/black-homicides-arrests/?utm_term=.bb58c728ae95.[]
  353. Jill Leovy, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (New York: Penguin Random House, 2015), 84.[]
  354. Jocelyn Fontaine, et al., “‘We Carry Guns to Stay Safe’ Perspectives on Guns and Gun Violence from Young Adults Living in Chicago’s West and South Sides,” Urban Institute, October 4, 2018, http://www.joycefdn.org/news/we-carry-guns-to-stay-safe-a-new-study.[]
  355. Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019); Thomas Abt and Christopher Winship, “What Works in Reducing Community Violence: A Meta-Review and Field Study for the Northern Triangle,” Democracy International, Inc., February 2016, https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/USAID-2016-What-Works-in-Reducing-Community-Violence-Final-Report.pdf.[]
  356. Aliza Aufrichtig, et al., “Want to fix gun violence in America? Go local,” The Guardian, January 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/nginteractive/2017/jan/09/special-report-fixing-gun-violence-in-america.[]
  357. Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019), 33.[]
  358. Bruce Frederick, “Measuring Public Safety: Responsibly Interpreting Statistics on Violent Crime,” Vera Evidence Brief, July 2017, https://www.vera.org/downloads/publications/for-the-record-measuring-public-safety_02.pdf.[]
  359. 34 U.S. Code § 60703(a)(2).[]
  360. Sheyla A. Delgado, et al., “Denormalizing Violence: A Series of Reports From the John Jay College Evaluation of Cure Violence Programs in New York City,” John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center, October 2, 2017, https://johnjayrec.nyc/2017/10/02/cvinsobronxeastny; Wesley G. Skogan, et al., Evaluation of Ceasefire-Chicago (Chicago: Northwestern University, 2008), https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/227181.pdf; Daniel W. Webster, et al., “Effects of Baltimore’s Safe Streets Program on gun violence: A replication of Chicago’s CeaseFire Program,” Journal of Urban Health 90, no. 1 (2013): 27–40, http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/web-assets/2012/01/evaluation-of-baltimore-s-safe-streets-program; Prof. Jason Corburn and Amanda Fukutome-Lopez, “Outcome Evaluation of Advance Peace Sacramento, 2018-19,” UC Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development, March 2020, https://www.advancepeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Corburn-and-F-Lopez-Advance-Peace-Sacramento-2-Year-Evaluation-03-2020.pdf; “Hospital-based Violence Intervention: Practices and Policies to End the Cycle of Violence,” The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention, March 2019,  https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5d6f61730a2b610001135b79/t/5d83c0d9056f4d4cbdb9acd9/1568915699707/NNHVIP+White+Paper.pdf.[]
  361. United States Department of Justice, “Project Safe Neighborhoods One Year Progress Report,” accessed November 13, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/file/1149381/download.[]
  362. 66 DOJ J. FED. L. & PRAC., no. 6, 2018, https://psn.cj.msu.edu/tta/Publication-%20Nov2018.pdf; see also Natalie Kroovand Hipple, et al., “Project Safe Neighborhoods Case Study Report: District Of Nebraska (Case Study 9),” April 2013, 25–27.[]
  363. Michigan State University, “Common Components of Successful PSN Strategies,” accessed November 13, 2020, https://psn.cj.msu.edu/tta/Common%20Components%20of%20Successful%20PSN%20Strategies_111618.pdf; see also Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Violent Crime Reduction Operations Guide,” accessed November 13, 2020, https://psn.cj.msu.edu/tta/violent-crime-reduction-operations-guide.pdf.[]
  364. 34 U.S. Code § 60703, https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/34/60703 (emphasis added).[]
  365. Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019).[]
  366. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Confronting the Inevitablity Myth: How Data-Driven Gun Policies Save Lives from Suicide,” September 13, 2018, https://giffords.org/lawcenter/report/report-on-gun-suicide-confronting-the-inevitability-myth/.[]
  367. See Giffords, “Mass Shootings,” accessed November 19, 2020, https://giffords.org/issues/mass-shootings; Giffords, “Safe Storage,” accessed November 19, 2020, https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-laws/policy-areas/child-consumer-safety/safe-storage.[]
  368. Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019).[]
  369. Lisa N. Sacco, “The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Historical Overview, Funding, and Reauthorization,” Congressional Research Service, April 23, 2019, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45410.pdf.[]
  370. Jesse Jannetta, Leah Sakala, and Fernando Rejón, “Federal Investment in Community-Driven Public Safety,” Urban Institute, September 2020, https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/102877/federal-investment-in-community-driven-public-safety.pdf.[]
  371. 34 USC § 10441 et seq.[]
  372. Office on Violence Against Women, “About the Office,” United States Department of Justice, accessed November 19, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/ovw/about-office.[]
  373. Id.[]
  374. Office on Violence Against Women, “The 2018 Biennial Report to Congress on the Effectiveness of Grant Programs Under the Violence Against Women Act,” United States Department of Justice, accessed November 19, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/ovw/page/file/1292636/download.[]
  375. Lisa N. Sacco, “The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Historical Overview, Funding, and Reauthorization,” Congressional Research Service, April 23, 2019, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45410.pdf.[]
  376. “Fatal Injury Data,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 1993–2017, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.[]
  377. Jill Tiefenthaler, Amy Farmer, and Amandine Sabira, “Services and Intimate Partner Violence in the United States: A county-Level Analysis,” Journal of Marriage and Family 67, no. 3 (2005): 565-578, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2005.00154.x.[]
  378. Kate Pickert, “What’s Wrong with the Violence Against Women Act,” Time, February 27, 2013, https://nation.time.com/2013/02/27/whats-wrong-with-the-violence-against-women-act; Marc Philpart, Sybil Grant, and Jesús Guzmán, “Healing Together: Shifting Approaches to End Intimate Partner Violence,” Policy Link, 2019, https://allianceforbmoc.org/resources-tools/ht-shifting-approaches-summary; Leigh Goodmark, Decriminalizing Domestic Violence: A Balanced Policy Approach to Intimate Partner Violence (Oakland: University of California Press, 2018).[]
  379. John Rich, et al., “Healing the Hurt: Trauma-Informed Approaches to the Health of Boys and Young Men of Color,” Drexel University Schools of Public Health and Medicine, October 2009,  https://unnaturalcauses.org/assets/uploads/file/HealingtheHurt-Trauma-Rich%20et%20al.pdf; Marc Philpart, Sybil Grant, and Jesús Guzmán, “Healing Together: Shifting Approaches to End Intimate Partner Violence,” Policy Link, 2019, https://allianceforbmoc.org/resources-tools/ht-shifting-approaches-summary; Blue Shield of California Foundation, “Breaking the Cycle: A life course framework for preventing domestic violence,” February 5, 2019, https://blueshieldcafoundation.org/sites/default/files/Life%20Course%20Presentation_combined_0.pdf.[]
  380. Marc Philpart, Sybil Grant, and Jesús Guzmán, “Healing Together: Shifting Approaches to End Intimate Partner Violence,” Policy Link, 2019, https://allianceforbmoc.org/resources-tools/ht-shifting-approaches-summary; Janet Currie and Erdal Tekin, “Understanding the Cycle: Childhood Maltreatment and Future Crime,” J Hum Resour. (2012): 509-549, http://europepmc.org/backend/ptpmcrender.fcgi?accid=PMC3817819&blobtype=pdf.[]
  381. As another concrete example, the Office on Community Violence should be directed to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to identify and fill the most pressing gaps in data and knowledge when it comes to addressing community violence. One of the first priorities in this space should be improving the national system for measuring the number of nonfatal shootings, which is notoriously incomplete. See Sean Campbell and Daniel Nass, “Senators Demand Answers on CDC’s Unreliable Gun Injury Data,” The Trace, March 29, 2019, https://www.thetrace.org/rounds/senators-cdc-gun-injuries-letter.[]
  382. Office on Violence Against Women, “About the Office,” United States Department of Justice, accessed November 19, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/ovw/about-office.[]
  383. Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019).[]
  384. 116th Congress, “S.2671- Break the Cycle of Violence Act,” 2019-2020, https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/2671/text.[]
  385. Lisa N. Sacco, “The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Historical Overview, Funding, and Reauthorization,” Congressional Research Service, April 23, 2019, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45410.pdf.[]
  386. See, e.g., Giffords, “Giffords, California Violence Intervention Leaders Undertake Virtual Lobbying to Encourage Lawmakers to Protect Funding for Lifesaving Gun Violence Prevention,” March 25, 2020, https://giffords.org/press-release/2020/03/calvip-virtual-lobby-day; Patrick Smith, “Anti-Violence Groups Band Together To Lobby For A Slice Of $20M In Federal Funds,” WBEZ, April 24, 2020, https://www.wbez.org/stories/anti-violence-groups-lobby-for-20m-in-federal-funds/8f8bc492-e97f-43ec-81f8-28a2624d6975; Maryland Violence Prevention Coalition, “Statement On Investment Alternatives To Policing To Save Lives From Violence,” June 12, 2020, https://mdpgv.org/investment-alternatives-to-policing; Connecticut Hospital Violence Intervention Program Collaborative, “HVIP Collaborative Update,” August 2020, https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/64350295/ct-hvip-report-august-2020-update.[]
  387. Office on Violence Against Women, “OVW Grants and Programs,” United States Department of Justice, accessed November 19, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/ovw/grant-programs.[]
  388. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Healing Communities in Crisis: Lifesaving Solutions to the Urban Gun Violence Epidemic,” March 10, 2016, http://lawcenter.giffords.org/healing-communities.[]
  389. The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention (formerly the National Network of Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs), “Hospital-based Violence Intervention: Practices and Policies to End the Cycle of Violence,” accessed November 19, 2020, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5d6f61730a2b610001135b79/t/5d83c0d9056f4d4cbdb9acd9/1568915699707/NNHVIP+White+Paper.pdf.[]
  390. Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, “Youth Diversion,” accessed November 19, 2020, http://www.brooklynda.org/youth-diversion.[]
  391. Jill Leovy, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015); Sarah Ryley, “Most Shooters Go Free in Chicago’s Most Violent Neighborhoods — While Police Make Non-Stop Drug Arrests,” The Trace, November 11, 2019, https://www.thetrace.org/2019/11/most-shooters-go-free-in-chicagos-most-violent-neighborhoods-while-police-make-non-stop-drug-arrests.[]
  392. Lisa N. Sacco, “The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Historical Overview, Funding, and Reauthorization,” Congressional Research Service, April 23, 2019, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45410.pdf.[]
  393. Interview with David Kennedy, National Network for Safe Communities, February 2, 2020.[]
  394. Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Training and Technical Assistance Grantee Directory,” Summer 2020, https://bjatta.bja.ojp.gov/system/files/attachments/BJA_NTTAC_Grantee_Directory.08.10.2020.pdf.[]
  395. Interview with David Kennedy, National Network for Safe Communities, February 2, 2020.[]
  396. Office on Violence Against Women, United States Department of Justice, “FY 2019 OVW Grant Awards by Program,” accessed November 19, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/ovw/awards/fy-2019-ovw-grant-awards-program.[]
  397. Office on Violence Against Women, “Plan for Evidence-based and Evidence-building Grantmaking,” United States Department of Justice, March 2016, https://www.justice.gov/ovw/file/834011/download.[]
  398. Office on Violence Against Women, “Office on Violence Against Women Launches Research and Evaluation Initiative,” United States Department of Justice, March 21, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/archives/ovw/blog/office-violence-against-women-launches-research-and-evaluation-initiative.[]
  399. Giffords, “Research Funding,” accessed November 19, 2020, https://giffords.org/issues/research-funding.[]
  400. Id. See David E. Stark and Nigam H. Shah, “Funding and Publication of Research on Gun Violence and Other Leading Causes of Death,” JAMA 317, no. 1 (2017): 84–85.[]
  401. Office on Violence Against Women, “The 2018 Biennial Report to Congress on the Effectiveness of Grant Programs Under the Violence Against Women Act,” United States Department of Justice, accessed November 19, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/ovw/page/file/1292636/download.[]
  402. Office on Violence Against Women, “OVW Announces Second Biennial Conferral,” United States Department of Justice, November 18, 2015, https://www.justice.gov/archives/ovw/blog/ovw-announces-second-biennial-conferral.[]
  403. Office on Violence Against Women, “Reports to Congress,” United States Department of Justice, accessed November 19, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/ovw/reports-congress.[]
  404. Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (New York: Basic Books, 2019).[]
  405. Giffords Law Center, “Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State-Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence,” December 18, 2017, https://giffords.org/lawcenter/report/investing-intervention-critical-role-state-level-support-breaking-cycle-urban-gun-violence.[]
  406. Mike Crowley and Betsy Pearl, “Reimagining Federal Grants for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform,” October 7, 2020, Center for American Progress, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/criminal-justice/reports/2020/10/07/491314/reimagining-federal-grants-public-safety-criminal-justice-reform.[]
  407. Jesse Jannetta, Leah Sakala, and Fernando Rejón, “Federal Investment in Community-Driven Public Safety,” Urban Institute, September 2020, https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/102877/federal-investment-in-community-driven-public-safety.pdf.[]
  408. Id.[]
  409. Joe Biden, “The Biden Plan to End Our Gun Violence Epidemic,” accessed November 19, 2020, https://joebiden.com/gunsafety.[]
  410. Id.[]