Sacramento, Ca — Gun violence wreaks havoc on families and communities, exacting terrible physical and emotional costs – but it also comes at a huge expense to California’s economy — over $6.5 billion annually – with $1.4 billion in costs paid directly by California taxpayers.
Assemblymember Buffy Wicks’(D – Oakland) bill to strengthen state investments CalVIP’s gun violence prevention programs passed a major hurdle today with full bipartisan support in the Assembly Committee on Public Safety and moves on to Appropriations with strong momentum. Assembly Bill 1603 establishes the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) grant program in statue, ensuring its state funding is spent on proven programs in communities with the greatest need. In addition to AB 1603, Wicks’ is asking for at least $39 million per year from the state budget for CalVIP grant funding.
“Gun violence cuts short thousands of lives and depresses the quality of life of whole neighborhoods,” said Assemblymember Buffy Wicks. “In my hometown of Oakland, we’ve seen first-hand the tremendous impact locally-driven violence intervention initiatives can have with strong funding from CalVIP. CalVIP provided critically needed matching funds for Oakland’s Ceasefire program, which helped the city achieve a nearly 50% drop in homicides and shootings since 2012. My proposed expansion of CalVIP will not only save lives– it will save taxpayer dollars by investing on the front end for dramatic reductions in violent crime.”
While California is a national leader in gun safety legislation, CalVIP’s gun violence prevention programs remain sorely underfunded. With over 9,980 shootings resulting in over 3,000 deaths each year– gun violence in California exacts a high physical, emotional, and financial toll on families and communities across the state.
“The CalVIP program has helped support some of the most innovative and effective violence intervention initiatives in the nation,” said Ari Freilich, California Legislative Director for Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “This program has helped fund critical work that saves lives, helps communities heal, and saves taxpayer dollars too. But this program has been woefully underfunded and its requirements have not yet been established in law. Giffords Law Center commends Asm. Wicks for working to strengthen our state’s investment in CalVIP and introducing the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which will ensure that CalVIP funds continue to be targeted on the most effective programs in communities with the greatest need.”
The California Violence Intervention and Prevention grant program is administered by the Board for State and Community Corrections (BSCC) and provides competitive grants to cities and nonprofit organizations implementing evidence-based violence reduction initiatives in heavily impacted communities. Banner programs for CalVIP include Oakland’s Operation Ceasefire, The Advance Peace initiative in Richmond and Stockton and The Gang Reduction and Youth Development Initiative in Los Angeles.
Starting in 2010, Operation Peacemaker and other violence prevention strategies in Richmond resulted in a 56 percent drop in homicides and positive economic impact of $500 million over five years. By 2014, the city saw the fewest number of people shot and killed in Richmond in 40 years. Launched in 2012, Oakland’s Operation Ceasefire saw similar success with a 43 percent drop in homicides and 49 percent drop in non-fatal shootings. Los Angeles’ Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) program resulted in a 38 percent reduction in homicides and a 46 percent reduction in aggravated assaults since its launch in 2007. Researches at Cal State University, Los Angeles found that GRYD incident response teams prevented an estimated 185 gang retaliations citywide from 2014-15, resulting in estimated savings of $110.2 million over two years.
AB 1603 will build on CalVIPs progress by establishing the program into statue and strengthening its existing requirements by:
● Removing low award caps allowing for sustained and meaningful investments in communities with the greatest need for resources
● Strengthening CalVIP’s eligibility requirements to focus on communities with the highest homicide rates
● Narrowing CalVIP’s focus to programs demonstrating the strongest likelihood of reducing violence, and those focused on working with individuals at the highest risk of being a victim or perpetrator of community violence in the near future
● Requiring BSCC to focus on initiatives that do not contribute to mass incarceration
● Requiring City grantees to distribute at least half of their CalVIP award to community-based organizations and/or public agencies primarily dedicated to community safety
● Requiring BSCC to seek input from people directly impacted by violence and those with experience implementing violence reduction initiatives
After introduction, AB 1603 will be voted on by Assembly Committee on Public Safety before moving on for approval by Assembly Appropriations.
AB 1603 is supported by Advance Peace, Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, Brady United Against Gun Violence, California Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Children’s Defense Fund, City of Stockton, Community Justice Action Fund, Cure Violence, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Every Child Foundation, Every Town for Gun Safety, Faith in Action, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Health Dialogue and Action, Legacy LA, Moms Demand Action, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, Public Health Advocates, Toberman Neighborhood Center, Urban Peace Institute and Youth Alive!.
Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D – Oakland, 15th District)