Bipartisan legislation provides at least $6.6 million for Maryland’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Program and for Baltimore’s Safe Streets Initiative
Washington, DC — Giffords, the gun safety organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, praised the Maryland legislature for taking a critical step to support community violence intervention strategies proven to save lives in impacted areas. Lawmakers approved legislation to appropriate at least $3 million annually to fund Maryland’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (VIPP), which boosts evidence-based community gun violence intervention strategies. On top of that, the legislation also provides $3.6 million in funding to Baltimore’s Safe Streets program, a public health-based violence interruption strategy based on the Cure Violence model. Representatives from Giffords spoke at committee hearings and provided written testimony in support of the legislation.
“Today the Maryland legislature took the necessary step to reduce the everyday shootings that disproportionately impact underserved communities of color,” said Tiffany Garner, Community Violence Initiative State Manager at Giffords. “These funds will help get to the bottom of Maryland’s gun violence crisis—by investing in evidence-based strategies that address the root causeS that have fueled a problem hurting too many families. We applaud the legislature for their courage in supporting these lifesaving funds, and thank Delegate Brooke Lierman and Senator Jill Carter for being the leaders Maryland needed to continue making progress on this vitally important issue.”
HB 822/SB 708, sponsored by Delegate Brooke Lierman and Senator Jill Carter, passed the Maryland legislature by wide margins in a strongly bipartisan vote. The legislation requires the governor to annually appropriate at least $3 million and as much as $10 million to Maryland VIPP, which supports local governments and nonprofit organizations that serve areas disproportionately affected by violence and populations identified as having the highest risk of perpetrating or being victimized by violence in the near future. The legislation also makes important substantive improvements to the program by requiring outside evaluations of supported strategies and allocating a percentage of funds to help with oversight and administration by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention.
For too long, states have failed to invest in effective programs to address this violence and murder inequality. But recently, 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 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 that 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. In 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.