What Happened to Crime in Camden? | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.
What Happened to Crime in Camden?, CityLab
Five years ago, the police department in Camden, NJ was disbanded, reimagined, and born again with fewer officers, lower pay, and a strategic shift toward community policing. In 2017, they had their lowest homicide rate since the 1980s.

‘Bold step’: King County to look at youth crime as public-health risk, The Seattle Times
King County, WA, home of Seattle, announced that its Juvenile Detention Services will aim to create a “trauma-informed” approach to incarcerated youth. The ultimate goal is zero youth incarceration: “Credible research suggests that we can reduce crime by bringing a rehabilitative, public health approach to juvenile justice.” Continue Reading →

Healing for Vegas | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.
“Healing for Vegas,” The Marshall Project
EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein reminds us that the survivors of the unthinkable violence in Las Vegas will have extensive and varying needs in order to recover from their trauma. “If we’re serious about supporting the survivors of Vegas, we would make sure every one of them has ongoing access to trauma and mental health services. We would ensure that those services were culturally appropriate and geographically accessible. We would support their financial and logistical needs while they rebuild their lives. We would respect their need for information, the desire some have for privacy and others for interaction. We would recognize there is no timeline for healing, or support.”

“Trauma is real for Newark residents and police,” The Star-Ledger 
Since 2016, EJUSA has trained nearly 200 NJ residents in our Police/Community Initiative on Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence trainings in Newark. The trainings encourage honest, open dialogue about race, policing, and community engagement from various perspectives. This story highlights the powerful storytelling and the moments of mutual understanding that have become hallmarks of our program: “Both sides understood each other’s plight on Tuesday as they took the first step toward bridging a chasm that has widened from years of mistrust.” Continue Reading →

We carry the stories with us in our fight towards justice | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

In honor of National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims (Sept 25), EJUSA’s staff extend deep-filled gratitude to the hundreds of family members of murder victims we have had the privilege to work with for the last 25+ years. We honor those loved ones you’ve lost and the stories you have shared with us. We carry them with us in our fight towards justice and healing for all. Read some of the stories about our work with families of homicide victims.

“Help The Trace Report on America’s Ignored Population of Gunshot Survivors,”The Trace
As part of its efforts to report on gun violence and its survivors, The Trace has pulled together a survey to try to help determine what services survivors need and which of those services they have trouble accessing. If you are the survivor of gun violence, please take a moment to fill out this survey, or if you know someone who has survived a gunshot wound, please pass this along. Continue Reading →

Let’s build a world where violence is rare | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

Vice’s in-depth Charlottesville video is a horrifying look at hatredThe Boston Globe
Our country watched white nationalists descend upon Charlottesville, VA, to deliver messages of hate and bigotry. Vice’s viral 20 minute documentary, “Charlottesville: Race and Terror,” provides an on-the-ground picture of this dark historical moment: “Vice doesn’t lose track of what really happened over the weekend — the domestic terrorism, the chants of ‘Jews will not replace us,’ the police in full gear. The piece does not skimp on the horrors, including footage of the car plowing into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. We see a black woman bowing in despair and disbelief after the crash, letting out a grief-stricken scream.” EJUSA condemns white supremacy, white nationalism, and violent extremism in all forms. We are fighting to create a world in which violence is rare, and there is racial justice and healing.

Statement Opposing the President’s Comments Encouraging Use of Force Against Members of our Community, National Juvenile Justice Network
EJUSA joined with several other justice organizations to condemn President Trump’s comments to law enforcement officers late last month, in which encouraged the use of force against community members. Continue Reading →

Community-driven, trauma-informed solutions to public safety | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

Race, History, Policing: A New Vision of Public Safety Conference, National Network for Safe Communities
This video features EJUSA’s Trauma Advocacy Program Director Fatimah Loren Muhammad on a panel talking about community-driven, trauma-informed solutions to public safety. The biennial conference brought together over 300 public safety stakeholders, national organizations, academics, and community groups to talk about advancements in the field.

Blueprint for a New NewarkThe New York Times
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Newark Rebellion, in which the police killing of a black cab driver ignited a city to fight for freedom from oppression and divestment. In this op-ed piece, Ryan Haygood, President of the NJ Institute for Social Justice and a collaborator of EJUSA, highlights this historical trauma and opportunities to create new police/community relationships today. EJUSA is proud to support the Newark community in forging these new relationships. Continue Reading →

Funding available for groups serving Native American Populations in California

California has opened an application process for organizations to apply for funds through the Federal Victims Of Crime Act (VOCA). If you are a Native American tribe, tribal nonprofit/community-based organization, or tribal consortium operating within a Tribal Court system in California, you may be eligible to apply through this RFP process.

The maximum grant award is $200,000.

Through our VOCA Funding Toolkit, and assistance from our Grassroots Capacity Building Specialist, EJUSA can help groups determine if they are eligible to apply, answer questions about the process, and provide some technical assistance for your group’s application. Please contact Latrina Kelly-James at latrinakj@ejusa.org or (203) 823-5826 or download the toolkit here.

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When police and community come together | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

Training Day, Trumplandia
While there are many efforts to train police officers, trainings often fail to deeply connect police to the community and their needs. EJUSA’s Police/Community Initiative is highlighted in this piece as doing just that: “The officers and community members sit together, assigned to small groups and tasked with creating poster boards they will present to the class. In magic marker, they write out recommendations for how different institutions — the police department, of course, but also social services and public schools and local leadership — can implement trauma-informed policies and practices.”

Violence victims get help to become own heroes, The Detroit News
A hospital-based trauma violence intervention program, Detroit Life is Valuable Everyday (DLIVE), believes the ideal time to approach violence victims about changing their lives is when they’re hospitalized, and thinking about how they got there. EJUSA has been working with DLIVE to grow their capacity so they can apply for federal funding to expand their program.

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Arkansas’ execution spree highlights fallacy of our nation’s approach to violence.

Preparing to deliver petitionsThe nation’s eyes were on Arkansas as it executed four people in 10 days in April, including holding the nation’s first double execution in almost two decades. The schedule drew national outrage, including 250,000 petition signatures delivered to the governor, intervention by victims’ family members, and celebrity involvement.

Much of the attention has been on the timeline, the process, and specific problems with each case, including faulty forensics, bad lawyers, mental impairments, racial disparities, unexamined mitigation, etc. At least half of the men experienced unspeakable childhood trauma – one of many reasons to spare their lives.

But now that some of the dust has settled, it’s time to ask a deeper question than whether or not to execute. Buried in those horrific childhood histories is a more profound story that gets to the heart of our nation’s misdirected approach to violence prevention and public safety. A public health approach might very well have prevented many of these murders in the first place.

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EJUSA helps lead discussions on violence and mass incarceration

Common Justice panelLast week EJUSA participated in two collaborations addressing violence and mass incarceration, both hosted by our friends at Common Justice.

The first was a panel of crime survivors at Common Justice’s conference, “Accounting for Violence: How to Increase Safety and Break our Failed Reliance on Mass Incarceration.” EJUSA was honored to get a shout on for our long history working with crime survivors during the conference’s opening remarks. Then our Trauma Advocacy Initiative Director, Fatimah Loren Muhammad, moderated the panel on survivor-centered responses to violence.

Survivor-leaders from across the country shared their experiences and perspectives on how the current reliance on incarceration fails crime survivors and their communities. Fatimah and the other speakers emphasized that effective responses to violence must focus on addressing trauma and helping survivors heal.

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Meet Pastor Gwendolyn Cook, a fearless victim advocate for girls | NCVRW2017 profile

pastor cook and youthImagine surviving human trafficking, sexual abuse, assault, domestic violence, and gang exploitation all before the age of 13. Pastor Gwendolyn Cook sees it every day. She is the founder and director of Women Walking in the Spirit (WWITS) Girls Mentoring Program in Camden, NJ. Her organization works with young girls returning from juvenile detention at Hayes Secure Care Facility for Girls in Bordentown, NJ. The girls have survived severe and often multiple forms of trauma.

I’ve worked with Pastor Cook for over a year, helping WWITS to frame a narrative for their work and building a program model so they can gain new funding sources. WWITS is one of dozens of grassroots organizations across the country that I’ve had the honor to support over the last year and a half. These groups are providing healing for communities wrecked by violence, victimization, and trauma. I help them build capacity to access and maintain federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding, preparing them for long-term success and creating more resources for healing. I am most inspired by the many groups who work with little to no funding, with volunteers as the lifeline — groups like Pastor Cook’s.

This profile is part of EJUSA’s series on National Crime Victims Rights Week.

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