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Joint Letter:

April 10, 2019

Senator Linda R. Greenstein
1249 South River Rd.
Suite 105
Cranberry, NJ 08512

Cc: Senator Joseph p. Cryan
Cc: Senator Nia H. Gill
Cc: Senator Declan J. O’Scanlon
Cc: Senator Nicholas J. Sacco
Cc: Senator Joseph F. Vitale
Cc: Senator Shirley K. Turner

Dear Senator Greenstein,

As organizations from all over the state of New Jersey, we believe that community-based violence interventions are a key aspect to reducing violence. Community-based violence intervention models, in New Jersey and across the country, are having a tremendous impact on violent crime. Cities that invest in community-based intervention strategies are achieving double digit decreases in the rates of violent crime. This shift away from strategies that center on law enforcement tactics and toward community-based solutions is a critical ingredient inreducing mass incarceration and healing our communities from trauma.

On March 7, 2019 amendments were made to A4801 which shifted the focus and original intent of the bill away from community-based interventions and prioritized hospital-based interventions. Hospital interventions are a critical piece of the work that we support, but it is not the only piece and it should certainly not be ranked as the first . The package of bills was originally drafted to support both hospital-based and community-based work.

S3309 can be a critical piece of the puzzle in creating a comprehensive approach to end violence and promote healing across our state—but only if we ensure it is focused on proven community-based strategies. For example, Newark has seen double digit reductions in violence after using community-based strategies in the neighborhoods that need it most. We believe that for S3309 to truly serve its purpose these amendments must be made:

· The inclusion of Community-Based Violence Intervention Agencies as the primary reference point around funding support for services as the "agencies" are the first line of intervention before a victim is admitted to the hospital.
· The inclusion of language that allows only joint applications to be submitted. From my understanding this change would ensure both law enforcement and institutions such as hospitals and universities would be required to work in collaboration with community-based agencies who are the real experts in this work.
· Institutions focusing on the research aspect of the work must be required to work with community based partners around data and publishing. This would ensure that community-based partners would be given credit for their work and data which historically doesn't happen.

It is imperative to refocus S3309 to center on community-based violence intervention strategies and tactics. Remember, those kind of programs, like the Newark Community Street Team, helped Newark violence by 30 percent. We believe that with the amendments listed above S3309 will allow the public to finally be at the heart of public safety in our communities.

We would like to meet and discuss how the aforementioned amendments would strengthen the bill and support people and communities around New Jersey. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Equal Justice USA
Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition
Newark Community Street Team
Hudson Partnership CMO
Newark Anti-Violence Coalition

To track the legislation: https://legiscan.com/NJ/bill/A4801/2018

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