Lowering the murder rate is the number one emergency for every public official. Responding to this emergency demands a strong partnership between the state and city that advances only strategies that have been proven to reduce homicide.
We need a comprehensive, fully-funded eight-year game-plan consisting of only proven strategies for lowering the murder rate. This cannot be exclusively the job of law enforcement.
The people can and should spearhead writing this plan, supported with state and local funding. As Delegate, I would be active in working with others to convene District 40 citizens and stakeholders to inform such an eight-year game plan of only proven strategies.
At a minimum, the state can provide $30,000 for every homicide from the previous year and use that funding to scale evidence-based violence prevention in Baltimore City (Abt 2020).
Put the dollars toward the underfunded, but most effective anti-violence approaches, such as group violence reduction strategy and cognitive behavioral therapy. For Baltimore, the additional funding to scale proven anti-violence strategies would be approximately $10,500,000 in year one.
Of course, this formula is in no way reflective of the cost of lost life to the community and to our city. Research shows that a single homicide can cost anywhere from $10,000,000 to $19,000,000.
In Bleeding Out, Thomas Abt states that this includes direct costs to the criminal justice system, to the medical system, and lost wages for the victim and perpetrator. It also includes indirect costs resulting from fear and avoidance, including higher insurance premiums, depressed property values, and fleeing economic activity. The loss to the families shaken and sometimes shattered by violence cannot be calculated.
- Action Item #1: Get guns off the streets by the most data-proven means available.
- Action Item #2: Work with neighborhoods over six- to nine-month period to develop a comprehensive community-informed, evidence-based plan for ending homicide in Baltimore.
- Action Item #3: Fund Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS) and hold someone accountable for implementing it properly according to the model. Ensure this person is entrusted with authority to direct action across agencies. We don’t need new middle management, just someone in charge of making GVRS successful through an agreement with all the agencies that need to be involved.
- Action Item #4: Fund the coordination that GVRS requires (inter-agency and among stakeholders) to be successful. To date, the coordination has not been funded for success in Baltimore.
- Action Item #5: Fund the incentives that are helpful for would-be shooters so that we can make GVRS a success. GVRS is effective because of a carrot and stick approach. To date, there has not been funding for the carrots.
- Action Item #6: Fund a significant scale-up of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), including in schools, neighborhoods, and prisons. CBT is a type of talk therapy that has proven highly effective in changing a person’s attitudes and behavior by focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes that the person holds. It helps one examine how those thoughts, images, beliefs, and attitudes relate to behavior, as a way of dealing with emotional challenges. Properly administered, it can be very effective.
- Action Item #7: Provide $30,000 for every homicide from the previous year and use that funding to scale evidence-based violence prevention in Baltimore City.