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Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act of 2020

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 17, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RUPPERSBERGER. Madam Speaker, I rise to urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill that will reduce the scourge of violence in America.

The bill is based on a very simple concept: helping the victims of violent injury before they become repeat victims or even perpetrators themselves. We can do this by expanding hospital-based violence intervention programs around the country.

I was inspired to write this bill after learning about the violence intervention program at the University of Maryland R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Maryland Shock Trauma is considered one of the top trauma centers in the world. And, by the way, it helped save my life years ago.

Shock Trauma has a staggering 20 percent of patients who are the victims of violence, usually stabbings and shootings, that have occurred on the streets of Baltimore. Many of these patients are repeat customers, caught in a revolving door of violent reinjury. In fact, one of the leading risk factors for violent injury is a prior violent injury.

Shock Trauma is taking advantage of the fact that these patients are a captive audience, confined to a bed and off the streets, if only for a few days.

Participants in their violence intervention program, one of the 40 that now exist across the country, receive a brief intervention in the emergency room or at the hospital bedside. They get counseling and support that could include help with groceries, bus money, substance abuse treatment, job training or help finding affordable housing.

This intervention is then followed by intensive community-based case management services in the months following the injury. At Shock Trauma, program participants have shown an 83 percent decrease in rehospitalization due to intentional violent injury, and a 75 percent reduction in criminal activity, and an 82 percent increase in employment.

This bill that we have before us today, the Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act, provides $10 million in Federal grants to hospitals that want to create or expand violence prevention programs. 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.

I believe, however, this bill will net cost savings to the American taxpayers by reducing violent crime, which costs more than $12 billion, from police, courts, and jails, to the medical expenses of victims, to the lost wages to both victims and perpetrators.

Further, as we engage in a national conversation about reimagining public safety, I think we need to do what we can 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.

In fact, when I first introduced this bill in 2019, it was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Resource Officers, and the National District Attorneys Association. We also received endorsements from the NAACP, American College of Surgeons, Network of Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs, and the National League of Cities. It has also been endorsed by the National Hospital Association.

Madam Speaker, I thank my friend, Adam Kinzinger, for coauthoring this important legislation; and Chairman Frank Pallone and Ranking Member Walden for helping us work through this bill.

Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote for the Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act.

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