President Biden Proposes $5 Billion for Community Violence Intervention Programs in Jobs Plan, Draws Praise from Giffords
After decades of gun violence ravaging communities across the country, President Joe Biden proposed a historic $5 billion investment into community violence prevention and intervention programs. The proposal, which is part of the administration’s jobs plan, comes just a week after a mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, and a deadly mass shooting that claimed the lives of eight people at three metro Atlanta massage parlors, in addition to a number of high-casualty mass shootings that devastated under-resourced communities and didn’t make the national news.
“For decades, too many families have been traumatized by vicious cycles of community and police violence,” said Paul Carrillo, Community Violence Initiative Director. “Black and Brown communities disproportionately suffer from gun homicides. Historically, the federal government’s approach, particularly when faced with surges in gun homicides, is to fund strategies that over-police and under-protect while creating a pipeline to mass incarceration. Today, the Biden administration demonstrated a commitment to addressing the root causes of gun violence through direct investment in programs proven to save and improve peoples’ lives.”
The proposed investment, which will take place over the span of eight years, urges Congress to invest in job training for formerly incarcerated individuals and justice-involved youth as well as improving public safety. The funding is a core element of the administration’s jobs plan aimed at helping the country build back from the pandemic.
During the past year, cities across the country have experienced a historic spike in gun homicides. In 2020, America suffered the largest single-year increase of homicides on record. This violence is a public health crisis disproportionately impacting Black and Brown Americans. Homicide is the leading cause of death for young Black men and from 2012 to 2017, Black children and teens were 14 times as likely to be shot to death as their white peers.
Community-based violence intervention programs take multiple forms, including hospital-based violence intervention programs, which break cycles of violence by connecting high-risk assault victims to long-term, wraparound social services. Studies show that these strategies save both lives and taxpayer dollars, making them an important part of a comprehensive response to gun violence. This is why the implementation of community violence intervention funding and prevention strategies has been a top priority at Giffords for a number of years. Giffords has been honored to partner and collaborate with a number of Black and Brown-led gun violence prevention organizations that have been doing this work on the ground and advocating for increased funding for decades.
At the end of 2020, Giffords Law Center released a report on the decades-long failure of federal programs to reduce gun violence in America’s cities and the desperate need for a new approach. “America at a Crossroads” detailed a new path forward focused on intentional investment in evidence-based community violence intervention and prevention strategies and helped set the table for the White House proposal announced today.
The report explored how for decades, federal funding to address the gun violence epidemic has been insufficient, unfocused, and sometimes harmful. The programs supported by this funding have failed to decrease homicide rates and have contributed to the mass incarceration that has disproportionately harmed communities of color. The lasting impact of gun violence on these communities leads to high levels of PTSD, higher rates of heart disease, and cancer.
Today’s announcement by the Biden administration represents a significant step toward a more effective and more equitable national response to community violence.
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