(source: ejusa.org)

S. E. Williams | BVN Executive Editor

Equal Justice USA is a national nonprofit working to transform the justice system in states across the country including California, where it joined 34 other organizations in 2019 and pressed state legislators to increase funding to the California Violence Intervention & Prevention (CalVIP) Grant Program.

The organization works at the intersection of criminal justice, public health, and racial justice, “to elevate healing over retribution, meet the needs of survivors, advance racial equity, and build community safety.

Recently, Equal Justice USA has been working with a coalition of organizations who are on the ground in several New Jersey communities driving innovative programs and interventions that are reducing violence.

This week the organization took a critical step toward growing that work and delivering true public safety to communities, this time in New Jersey. 

Public Safety is Crucial as Gun Violence Rises

“We are on the verge of a new era of public safety in which it’s clear that traditional law enforcement can no longer be the single point of contact for safety in communities,” said Will Simpson, director of violence reduction initiatives for Equal Justice USA.

“This is crucial as gun violence continues to rise around the country. We must invest in proven community-based violence intervention and prevention models that treat violence like the public health issue that it is and that expand the public safety ecosystem to truly include the public. Governor Murphy’s announcement marks an important step in that shift.”

“This evolution is possible because of the unwavering, ground-breaking work of community-based violence intervention organizations using public health strategies to make their neighborhoods much safer. But there is a long way to go. This investment is significant but still a fraction of law enforcement budgets across the state.

Reimagining Public Safety

“It wasn’t long ago that our society saw policing as the only solution to violence. Much has changed in a short period of time, beginning with the emergence of community-based organizations with a deep understanding of how trauma and a deficit of resources and support can ignite violence.” 

In addition to its work in the coalition, EJUSA runs Trauma to Trust, the successful community-police relationship training program currently situated in Newark, where more than 200 officers have undergone the training.

Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) works to transform the justice system by ending the death penalty, strengthening programs that help crime survivors rebuild their lives, and promoting trauma-informed responses to violence that save lives and heal communities.

Click here to view New Jersey governor’s announcement of $10mm investment in Violence Prevention.  

S. E. Williams is managing Editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News.