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DOJ Adding $80 Million For Community Violence Intervention

The Justice Department is set to invest nearly $80 million in additional funding to support community violence intervention programs across the U.S. as part of the federal government's strategy to continue stemming high crime rates.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Wednesday that federal law enforcement officials are turning their attention to reducing violence in St. Louis, Jackson, Miss., and Hartford, Ct., in an ongoing initiative to surge resources to areas experiencing spikes in crime, CBS News reports

Homicides decreased nationwide by 13% in 2023, Garland said while speaking in Chicago. Federal data showed a 6% decrease in reported violent crime last year.

Acknowledging that "there is still so much more to do," the attorney general credited community violence intervention programs with some of the decreases in crime rates.

These initiatives — funded by Justice Department grants — use evidence-based practices and data to combat violence in communities deemed most likely to either commit or be victimized by violent crime.

In addition to new grant programs announced by Garland, DOJ soon will announce a new program focusing on the health wellness of community violence intervention outreach workers, Assistant Attorney General Amy Solomon told the gathering.

Justice Department officials believe that populations closest to the violence are likely to be the most well-equipped to work toward solutions, prevent escalations and stop violent acts before they occur. 

Over the last two years, the Justice Department has allocated $200 million into 76 initiatives including nonprofit organizations and states and local municipalities, from the city of Richmond, Va., to a California-based organization aimed at reducing retaliatory gun violence. 

The Newark, N.J., Community Street Team — received $2 million to aid its work to reduce violence by "engaging in high-risk intervention" and providing support to survivors of violent crimes. 

"The Justice Department is committed to continuing to make historic investments in community violence intervention," Garland told more than 700 representatives of grant recipients.

Still, gun violence remains the leading cause of death among young people. Federal law enforcement officials said that statistic demonstrates the need to bring targeted crime reduction approaches to younger populations. 

Funding these local strategies can only do so much to tamp down violent crime as illegal guns continue flooding into communities. Garland said the Justice Department was also working to crack down on black-market guns.

While violent crime across some big cities decreased last year — Philadelphia and Baltimore each saw 20% reductions in homicides between 2022 and 2023 — it remains unclear what effect federal programs are having on public perceptions.

A Gallup poll released in November found 77% of Americans believed there was more crime in the country, compared to 2022. Nearly two-thirds polled felt there was either a "very" or "extremely" serious crime problem. 


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