Greenwald, Pintor Marin & Reynolds-Jackson Bill Bolstering Effort to Stem Gun Violence in NJ Now Law

Measure to Fund Violence Intervention Program in Local Communities

Moving forward on actions to prevent gun violence in the state, one of six legislative measures to stem gun violence by putting much needed attention on mental health and counseling needs of gun violence victims, was signed into law by the Governor on Monday.

The measure (A-4801), now law, is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Lou Greenwald, Eliana Pintor Marin and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson.

It establishes the New Jersey Violence Intervention program for the purpose of saving lives by investing in effective, evidence-based violence initiatives focused on the highest-risk individuals in communities disproportionately impacted by community violence, particularly firearm violence.

“We’ve seen acts of mass gun violence in two major U.S. cities, Virginia Beach and our own state capitol claim too many lives and left numerous injured,” said Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington). “If we’re going to address this gun violence epidemic we have to turn our attention to the violence that rarely makes the headline yet it’s impact is the same. We know that evidence-based violence intervention programs, like the one at University Hospital in Newark, can be an effective tool to combat gun violence. By investing in the New Jersey Violence Intervention Program, we can support victims and help those most at risk to break the cycles of gun violence. ”

Nationally, homicide remains one of the leading causes of death among youth and young adults ages 15 to 34. Recurrent violence-related trauma accounts for up to 45 percent of all hospital trauma admissions. In some urban hospitals, up to 45 percent of patients treated for violent injuries like gunshot wounds are re-injured within a five year period following discharge.

“Increasing access to services and supporting program initiatives for victims of gun violence will help those affected by it right in their own communities,” said Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “Funding is a critical part of encouraging gun violence reduction initiatives throughout the state.”

Acknowledging the immense role access to mental health care plays in prevention, the law aligns New Jersey with a national trend of developing evidence-based violence intervention programs in communities, such as hospitals that handle trauma incidents related to gun violence.

Last year three bills were signed into law bolstering Hospital Violence Intervention Programs (HVIP) to provide intensive counseling, case management, and social services to patients who are recovering from gunshot wounds or other violent injuries.

“In Trenton, we understand the impact that gun violence has on a community every day. We see permanent effects of retaliatory behavior and the need to help hospitals close the revolving door of gunshot victims as a result,” said Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “The New Jersey Violence Intervention Program will help statewide and community initiatives make an impact on reducing gun violence in New Jersey.”

Multiple case studies and controlled trials have shown that HVIPs and evidence-based programs are highly effective at reducing patients’ rates of violence and re-injury. Reducing the likelihood that patients will be re-hospitalized or will perpetrate violence in the future has also contributed to a substantial cost savings in health care in the long run.