Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (2nd District of Maryland)
(Washington, DC) – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) to address the revolving door of violent crime in communities across America by expanding hospital-based intervention programs. H.R. 5855, the Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act of 2020, provides $10 million in federal grants to hospitals that want to expand or create programs for patients who are recovering from injuries as a result of violent crime.
The bill, which now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration, is modeled off a highly successful program at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where 20 percent of patients are victims of violence, usually stabbings and shootings that have occurred on the streets of Baltimore.
Violent crime costs American taxpayers more than $42 billion – from police, courts and jails, to the medical expenses of victims, to the lost wages to both victims and perpetrators.
“One of the leading risk factors for violent injury is prior injury,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “If we can help victims of violent injury before they become repeat victims or even perpetrators themselves, we end the cycle and net a cost savings to the American taxpayer. This bill is also critical to our efforts to shift social work away from police and first responders, and back to the experts in mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, unemployment and other areas that often afflict victims of violent crime.”
“Mental health issues are spiking across the country, and unfortunately, so are acts of violence. And the victims are often caught in a vicious cycle of violence. But by supporting victims with the resources and education to pursue a different path, we can stop the cycle of violence and give people hope for a better tomorrow,” said Congressman Kinzinger. “Right now, it’s important we work together to help and heal those who are struggling. The Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act is a perfect example of how we can join forces and enact policies that will have a real and lasting impact in our communities. I want to thank my colleague Congressman Ruppersberger for working with me on this important legislation and am glad to see it moving forward today.”
At Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center, program participants receive a bed-side assessment, counseling and a broad range of support that could include groceries, bus money, substance abuse treatment, job training or help finding affordable housing. Patients have shown an 83 percent decrease in re-hospitalization due to intentional violent injury, a 75 percent reduction in criminal activity, and an 82 percent increase in employment.
The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to select existing and aspiring violence prevention programs from across the country to receive federal grants for expanding services or studying effectiveness. At the end of a 3-year pilot, each hospital will report its findings back to the federal government. Awards will range from $250,000 to $500,000.
The bill was first introduced by Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger in 2019, when it was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American College of Surgeons, the Society of Trauma Nurses, the National Association of School Resource Officers, the National League of Cities, the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs, the National District Attorneys Association, and Cure Violence. Since, that list has grown to now include the American Hospital Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, and local elected officials.