New federal VOCA guidelines broaden scope of eligible groups and services

Last month, the federal Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) released revised guidelines for the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding. The new guidelines are the result of public feedback and developments within victim services over the last 15 years. Some of the new guidelines recognize the marginalization of underserved survivors and are a step in the right direction in terms of meeting EJUSA’s goals of brining equity to services for survivors.

We will update our VOCA Toolkit to reflect these changes, but we wanted to give you a little preview: Continue Reading →

Healing Justice 2016

Ben Jealous at Healing Justice 2016EJUSA attended the 6th Annual Healing Justice Alliance Conference, a convening that brought together crime survivors, innovative community-based violence prevention programs, hospital-based violence reduction programs, and other criminal justice and public health partners.

EJUSA is pleased to have been a part of a number of convenings in recent months that break down silos between public health, criminal justice, violence prevention, and victimization – including our recent meeting at the White House and a presentation at the DOJ National Conference on Youth Violence Prevention. The powerful Healing Justice Alliance conference was no exception.

More and more Americans are embracing the idea that mass incarceration has failed communities most impacted by violence, particularly devastating communities of color, and that we need a new approach.

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Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Evangelical Leaders Call for Halt to Texas Execution Demand New Sentencing Hearing for Jeff WoodThe Gospel Herald
Evangelical Leaders Call for Halt to Texas ExecutionEvangelicals for Social Action
Evangelicals urge halt to Texas executionBaptist News Global
Evangelical leaders: Texas has ‘moral obligation’ to stop execution of death row prisoner, Christian Today
Several stories about the almost 50 Evangelical pastors who called on Texas Governor Greg Abbot and the Board of Paroles and Pardons to commute the death sentence of Jeffrey Wood. Wood is scheduled to be executed on August 23, even though he never killed anyone, had no previous criminal history, and suffers from borderline intellectual functioning and mental illness. Although Wood was involved in a robbery, he didn’t plan to kill anyone and wasn’t even inside the gas station when the victim, Kris Keeran, was shot. He was sitting in a truck outside.

Even violent crime victims say our prisons are making crime worseThe Washington Post
According to a new  report from the Alliance for Safety & Justice,“A majority of crime victims prefer investments in treatment & prevention over prison spending.” The report, “Crime Survivors Speak,” includes the first national survey of crime victims’ views on safety and justice policy. It reveals their preference for prevention, health, and rehabilitation over more spending on prisons and jails. Continue Reading →

Recommended: From Heartbreak to Healing – the Journey of Crime Survivors

The Public Welfare Foundation features EJUSA’s vision for a justice system that heals in its new publication, “From Heartbreak to Healing – the Journey of Crime Survivors.”

“We believe the justice system needs to serve all the constituencies impacted by crime: survivors, those who commit crimes, and communities. That means providing healing for survivors, accountability for those who commit crimes, and safety for communities….”  – EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein

Read the full publication here, including our Executive Director’s longer quote on page 5.

National survey reveals victims’ views on criminal justice priorities

Crime_Survivors_SpeakThere is an assumption that justice means punishment for someone who has done something wrong: a crime happens, law enforcement finds out who did it, the courts hand down a sentence, and the crime victim is healed.

But we know from our work with crime survivors over the last decade that the reality is much more complex. Hundreds of crime survivors have told us about their many needs that have nothing to do with what happens to the person who harmed them. A new survey released by the Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) puts data behind that knowledge.

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Funding available for groups serving survivors in California

California has opened an application process for organizations to apply for funds through the Federal Victims Of Crime Act (VOCA). This particular round of funding is reserved for advocacy and support services to unserved/underserved child and youth victims of a crime. (“Underserved” is defined by the state of California as: Cultural/Ethnic Specific Community; Geographically Isolated; Immigrants; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth (LGBTQ) Community(ies); Specific Crime Type (i.e., homicide); Youth with disabilities; Youth in Foster Care.)

If you are an organization in California that works with crime survivors or victims’ families in these unserved/underserved children and youth populations, you may be eligible to apply through this RFP process.

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Funding available for groups serving survivors in Michigan

Michigan has opened its application process for organizations to apply for funds (pdf) through the Federal Victims Of Crime Act (VOCA).  If you are an organization in Michgan that works with crime survivors or victims’ families, you may be eligible to apply through this RFP process.

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

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The last 72 hours: a message from EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein

The events of the last 72 hours have left us reeling. So much carnage, so much fear.

Justice, broken down into bite sized pieces, can sometimes feel so close within reach. The death penalty stopped here, more healing services there. And then we are confronted with these big moments that remind us how inadequate bite-sized justice can be. When transformation is needed, how do you break that down into “winnable bits” that sustain hope through the darkness? Is this even our task?

I don’t have the answers. I know that in the last two days I watched two children – a teenage boy cry for his father Alton Sterling and a four year girl try to comfort her mother after police killed Philando Castile. No child should ever have to go through that. Black children go through it all too often. The trauma of living in fear of the very systems and institutions that are supposed to protect runs deep through communities of color and has for centuries. As a white director, I don’t know that fear or that trauma. I can only see it, account for it, and commit my life to the struggle for change.

And police are often afraid in their jobs. And it is in that fear that I imagine the seeds for change – because this system isn’t working for anyone. There is a different way, a way where we all can see each other’s pain and trauma, where we embrace a model of community safety rooted in healing, in restoration, in mercy, in relationships, in love.

On a day when there are no words, I say to the families of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Michael Smith, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarippa, Brent Thompson, Lorne Ahrens, and everyone who has lost a loved one to violence: I see you, I love you, and I will fight for you. To the black members of the EJUSA family: I see you, I love you, I will fight for you. And to the law enforcement members of the EJUSA family fighting for change: I see you, I love you, I will fight for you.

Stakeholders meet at White House to discuss race, trauma, and disrupting cycle of violence

EJUSA staff at the White House with Administrative staff Roy AustenEJUSA staff were at the White House last week with health and violence experts, discussing the national movement to frame and address violence as a public health issue.

Executive Director Shari Silberstein, Director of the Trauma Advocacy Initiative Fatimah Loren Muhammad, and Director of Campaigns and Strategy Laura Porter (pictured left with Roy Austin, Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity in the White House) shared EJUSA’s vision of a trauma-responsive justice system.

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Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Supreme Court To Hear Cases Challenging Two Texas Death SentencesBuzzfeed
The high court agrees to hear the death penalty cases of Duane Buck and Bobby James Moore.

After nearly 40 years, murder charges dropped against Kerry Max Cook in East Texas caseThe Dallas Morning News
Kerry Max Cook spent 20 years on death row. This week the murder charges against him were dropped. One of the subjects of “The Exonerated” is finally exonerated.
Continue Reading →