Giffords Lauds Maryland Senate for Voting to Override Veto of SB708 and Support Community Violence Intervention Strategies
Bipartisan legislation provides at least $6.6 million for Maryland’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Program and Baltimore’s Safe Streets Initiative
Washington, DC — Giffords, the gun safety organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, praised the Maryland Senate for voting to override Governor Hogan’s veto of SB708, which provides $6.6 million in funding for community violence intervention programs. Last year, lawmakers approved legislation to appropriate at least $3 million annually to fund Maryland’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (VIPP). On top of that, the legislation also provides $3.6 million in funding to Baltimore’s Safe Streets program. Representatives from Giffords spoke at committee hearings and provided written testimony in support of the legislation, and were disappointed to see Governor Hogan veto the bill last May.
“Today the Maryland Senate took meaningful action to reduce the everyday shootings that disproportionately impact underserved communities of color,” said Tiffany Garner, Community Violence Initiative Outreach Manager at Giffords. “This funding will save lives by investing in evidence-based strategies that address the root cause of gun violence that have fueled a problem hurting too many families. We applaud the Maryland Senate for their courage in voting to override the governor’s veto on these lifesaving funds, and thank Senator Jill Carter for being the leader Maryland needs to continue making progress on this vitally important issue. Giffords looks forward to the Maryland House voting to do the right thing and keep these programs’ lights on.”
For too long, states have failed to invest in effective programs to address community violence. But recently, states like Maryland are turning to intervention strategiesto break the cycle of violence. Research and case studies have shown that through a combination of focused, 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 violence intervention strategies include:
- Group Violence Intervention programs that identify the small segment of the population—sometimes just a few dozen people—responsible for the majority of gun violence in a neighborhood. Community leaders, in conjunction with police, 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 employ “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 Violence Intervention programs that connect recently injured patients with case managers who help them leave behind their 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.
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 last year and was vetoed by the governor in May. 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.
With shootings spiking this year in many areas of the country, Giffords Law Center recently released a report on the decades-long failure of federal programs to reduce gun violence in America’s cities. As the next administration arrives in the White House, “America at a Crossroads” details a new path forward, focused on investing in the evidence-based community violence intervention strategies that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris championed on the campaign trail.
The recent publication on federal policy followed a report by Giffords Law Center, A Case Study in Hope: Lessons From Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence, detailing Oakland’s successful citywide gun violence reduction strategy.
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