As Violent Crime Rises in Some Communities and Voters Cite Crime as a Top Concern, Survivors Organize to Uplift Proven Public Safety Solutions in Midterm Elections and Beyond
WASHINGTON – As gun violence surges in communities across the country, America’s largest organization of crime survivors launched a nationwide program to mobilize 100,000 crime survivors to get involved in Midterm elections. The Alliance for Safety and Justice’s national Heal the Vote campaign will focus on expanding the traditionally low-turnout Midterm election electorate by registering and mobilizing crime survivors who are first-time voters. The campaign will include voter registration, town halls and community events, and door-to-door canvassing in communities most harmed by gun violence. Advocates note that the voter registration and turnout efforts could prove decisive in key races in Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania; their goal is to elevate the voices and concerns of historically disenfranchised crime survivors who have the most at stake this election cycle.
“We started off asking for a seat at the table, and now crime victims are building our own,” said Aswad Thomas, Vice President of Alliance for Safety and Justice. “In communities across the country that are increasingly wracked by gun homicide rates that have increased as much as 50% during the pandemic, crime survivors are feeling ‘the fierce urgency of now.’ Survivors cannot wait – so we’re organizing for the change we know our country needs. Heal the Vote is a chance for crime survivors to make sure elected leaders are listening to us, and that they adapt to a new way of thinking about public safety that centers proven solutions over punitive failed policies. Nobody understands public safety better than survivors.”
Crime survivors are a rapidly growing movement with unprecedented success securing major political wins, and a track record of helping pass common sense legislation and public safety solutions that prioritize the people most harmed by crime. Victim services, trauma recovery centers, prevention and rehabilitation programs, restorative justice and other community-led safety initiatives backed by survivors are already proving to be most effective in addressing the root causes of crime. Public polling shows that voters across the political spectrum also favor these solutions over the recent resurgence of outdated “law and order” policy that focuses exclusively on harshly punishing crime after the fact.
“It’s been proven time and time again that the safest communities in the country don’t have the most police or prisons; they have the most resources,” said Jay Jordan, President of Alliance for Safety and Justice. “More after school programs, substance abuse counseling, victims’ services, and housing and career resources are critical components of safe communities. Heal The Vote is a campaign created by and for people who are victims of crime to stand up and demand lawmakers pay attention to exactly what’s needed in our communities – and then to hold them accountable to making it happen.”
During the first ever #HealTheVote campaign in 2020, the initiative was supported by high profile celebrities including singer Kiana Lede, retired NFL star Stedman Bailey, actor Katelyn Ohashi, and recording artists Mario and T-Pain, influencers who all have personal connections to the cause. For the midterm elections this fall, ASJ plans to organize survivors in major cities with strong chapters of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.
Next year alone, the U.S will spend more than $317 billion taxpayer dollars on the criminal justice system. Yet, the vast majority of funding will never reach crime victims in communities most harmed. In fact, 9 in 10 survivors of violence report never receiving basic victims services. Without change, federal funding will continue to have little effect on cycles of violence in vulnerable communities. Crime survivors are organizing to ensure that lawmakers are committed to reimaging public safety, guided by those who understand first hand what’s needed.
For more information, visit https://cssj.org/vote/.
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE
Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a national advocacy organization that aims to replace ineffective criminal justice system policies with what works to keep people safe. We represent diverse crime survivors as well as people living with old records as key public safety stakeholders. ASJ brings our members together with state leaders and coalition partners to win reforms that stop cycles of crime, reduce costly incarceration, and make communities safer. We support a range of “shared safety” reforms, including crime prevention, community health, rehabilitation, economic mobility, and trauma recovery. For more information, visit https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org.