Legislation would prioritize $10 million for Maryland’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Program
March 6, 2020 — Giffords, the gun safety organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, urges the Maryland House Appropriations Committee and Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to advance legislation to fund Maryland’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (VIPP), which boosts evidence-based community gun violence intervention strategies. Representatives from Giffords testified at both committee hearings in support of the legislation.
“Everyday shootings are a major driver of America’s gun violence crisis, disproportionately impacting underserved communities of color in places like Baltimore,” said Tiffany Garner, Community Violence Initiative State Manager at Giffords, who testified at the hearing. “Ending these shootings requires an all-hands-on-deck approach from community members, faith leaders, and public health experts. With committees in the House and Senate hearing testimony on the need to fund these evidence-based strategies, they’re showing a meaningful commitment to ending this crisis. We thank Delegate Brooke Lierman and Senator Jill Carter for continuing to champion these lifesaving strategies and urge the committees to pass this legislation.”
HB 822/SB 708, sponsored by Delegate Brooke Lierman and Senator Jill Carter, requires Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to include $10,000,000 in the state budget to the Maryland VIPP program, requiring that the appropriation be composed of at least $5,000,000 in general funds; authorizing the Fund to be used for oversight of the Fund, public outreach and education, and technical assistance and best practice education for grantees; requiring the Executive Director of the Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Advisory Council to oversee certain evaluations.
“It is our privilege to work with Giffords and other partners to strengthen the Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program Fund,” said James Timpson of ROCA Baltimore, a community outreach program. “If we invest in communities and the right strategies, there is overwhelming evidence that people can fully heal and we can significantly reduce violence.”
For too long, states have failed to invest in effective programs to address this violence and murder inequality. But recently, more states like Maryland are turning to intervention strategies to address the imbalance. Research and case studies have shown that through a combination of low-cost, community-oriented intervention programs and much-needed firearms policy reforms, gun violence rates in underserved communities can be dramatically reduced in as little as two years. These policy solutions include:
- Group violence intervention programs that identify the small population—sometimes just a few dozen people—responsible for the majority of gun violence in a neighborhood. Community leaders, in conjunction with police, offer opportunities to discourage group members from participating in shootings. Boston saw a 42% decrease in murders after implementing Group Violence Intervention programs.
- Cure violence intervention programs that treat gun violence like a communicable disease, this strategy employs “violence interrupters” trained to understand neighborhood dynamics and mediate potentially deadly conflicts. At the same time, outreach workers connect at-risk individuals to social services. Homicides fell 31% in Chicago neighborhoods using a similar model.
- Hospital-based intervention programs to connect recently injured patients with case managers who help them leave behind a violent lifestyle and avoid the retaliatory attacks that make up a significant share of community gun violence. Using this model, San Francisco General saw injury recidivism rates fall from 16% to just 4.5% for the six years following implementation, a $500,000 savings in annual medical expenses.
A report by Giffords Law Center, A Case Study in Hope: Lessons From Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence, details Oakland’s successful citywide gun violence reduction strategy. Since 2012, Oakland has cut its annual shootings and homicides nearly in half. By 2018, Oakland recorded its lowest number of homicides in almost two decades. This stands in direct contrast to many other major American cities that saw an increase in gun violence after 2012.