First-of-its-Kind Analysis of Key Safety Gaps Many Communities Face Points to Proven Prevention Solutions that Can Be Scaled to Stop Violent Crime Cycles
Population-based Estimates Can Be Used to Determine New Safety Investments Necessary to Prevent Violence
WASHINGTON – As gun violence and other serious crime dominate headlines across America, a new report from the Alliance for Safety and Justice, Scaling Safety, presents a first-of-its-kind roadmap for expanding community-based public safety solutions that can help stop crime cycles and prevent violence. For the first time, an analysis lays out the most common gaps in public safety and the prevention solutions that can address those gaps. The report proposes specific formulas for expanding key prevention programs based on an analysis of the “safety gap”—the lack of preventive public safety infrastructure that has prevented communities from being equipped to address crisis and prevent violence.
Instead of implementing “tough on crime” policies, the report identifies four key safety gaps that can be filled by scaling popular community-based preventive solutions such as trauma recovery and other services for victims; community-based violence prevention; and programs that help community members struggling with mental illness and substance use disorders. Data in the report demonstrates that victim support, rehabilitation, and intervention programs are highly effective at preventing cycles of crime and violence, but have not yet been invested in at a level that would adequately meet community need for these preventative services.
Also for the first time, using population-based estimates—similar to calculations used in the fields of education, housing, and health care to estimate program needs—the report offers benchmarks for safety investments necessary to prevent violence and other serious crime.
The report found, for example, that by establishing just one Trauma Recovery Center (TRC), one nonprofit civil legal aid group, and 20 emergency shelter beds for domestic violence victims and their children, a city can ensure access to life-changing victim services to 100,000 residents. TRCs offer evidence-based, comprehensive care essential in helping the hardest-to-reach survivors of violent crime to heal and recover stability. With free-of-charge case management; mental health care; and assistance navigating the legal system, accessing housing and job protections, and applying for victims compensation, adequately funding TRCs is one of the most effective measures in achieving public safety.
“There is no cure-all for violence, but there are common sense public safety solutions that we know how to implement,” explains Aswad Thomas, a gun violence survivor and Vice President of the Alliance for Safety and Justice. “It is a matter of building the political will at the city, state, and national levels to bring these solutions to scale. Crime survivors have been working tirelessly to do just that. With Scaling Safety they now have a blueprint for a concerted call to action in city halls and statehouses across the country.”
According to the findings, many communities are facing high rates of violence because they lack the investments and tools that are needed to reduce crime: support for crime victims; community-based violence prevention; mental health interventions and substance use treatment; and pathways to stability for people exiting the justice system. Inequity in access to these resources for vulnerable communities is rife.
For nearly two decades violent crime in the U.S. had shown steady declines. Beginning with the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, our country has experienced a major uptick in gun-related violence. Voters are calling for solutions as the midterm elections approach, and the solutions outlined in Scaling Safety are proven to make communities safer.
Policies to fill the “safety gap” have been found to be more popular, effective, and cost-effective than “law and order” proposals. For example, when asked about their priorities for public safety, voters prefer funding mental health crisis response and treatment to prisons and jails by a three-to-one margin. Voters are also twice as likely to support investments in community-based violence prevention than incarceration.
“Many state legislatures are quietly embracing these public safety solutions,” explains Jay Jordan, CEO of the Alliance for Safety and Justice. “Now, we need elected leaders to embrace them at scale. Our research shows that the public prefers investing in these alternative approaches to safety. If we are serious about public safety in every community, we need to invest in what we know works to close the safety gap and ensure all those in need have access to these essential prevention and healing programs.”
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.