Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, an ardent gun control advocate since making a full recovery from being shot in the head, joined Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and many others in Jersey City to announce $20 million in Victims of Crime Act funding for nine New Jersey hospitals.
“In places like Jersey City, we also recognize that any time that there’s gun violence in the community, it reverberates throughout that neighborhood and causes trauma and PTSD and long-term impacts for people that live in that area,” Mayor Steven Fulop said at a presser at the Mary McCleod Bethune Center this morning.
“So we’re focusing on that as a priority and treating this as a public health initiative as opposed to just violence.”
Just over seven weeks ago, only a couple blocks away from where today’s press conference was held, the Greenville section of Jersey City was turned into a war zone when two shooters killed four innocent bystanders.
Federal authorities have recently said that the domestic terror/bias incident originally intended to create more carnage by targeting a Jewish community center in Bayonne that they declined to name.
Murphy, who praised Jersey City officials’ leadership during this time of crisis, noted that he’s proud of his administration’s efforts to curtail gun violence statewide.
“In the three years of our administration, I have been honored with working with many others, including on this stage, to restore New Jersey’s place as the national leader in a fight against senseless gun violence,” the governor stated.
” … And so today, it is my honor, along with the attorney general, Gabby [Giffords], and everyone here, to announce the first recipients for hospital-based intervention programs. The grants we’re announcing today will allow us to work directly to turn around lives at a single point of contact.”
The VOCA funding from the federal government will be allocated to nine hospitals throughout the state, including the Jersey City Medical Center.
The other facilities receiving grant money are the Center for Family Services in Camden, the Trinitas Health Foundation in Elizabeth, Atlantic Care in Atlantic City, Capital Health in Trenton, RWJ University Hospital in New Brunswick, University Hospital in Newark, Hackensack Meridian’s facilities in Monmouth County, and St. Joseph’s Health in Paterson.
Hospital-based violence intervention programs reach victims of gun violence and others touched by violence right at the time of crisis and are proven to reduce repeat injury, the governor’s office said.
They seek to leverage these crucial moments, when medical treatment and recovery services can be combined with education, counseling, social services, and case management to prevent future involvement in violence.
Additionally, HVIPs serve victims of many types of violence, including human trafficking.
Giffords, who served as the congresswoman of Arizona’s 8th District from 2007 through 2012, kept her remarks short and sweet: applauding everyone who continues to step up in the fight against gun violence.
“Fighting gun violence takes courage: the courage to do what’s right … I’ve seen great courage when my life’s on the line. Now is the time to come together, be responsible: Democrats, Republicans, everyone,” she began.
“We must never stop fighting: fight, fight, fight! Be bold! Be courageous! The nation’s counting on you!”
Furthermore, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said that state officials made a promise to do everything they could to intervene and prevent gun violence the best they could in light of the December 10th tragedy in Jersey City and this marked the first step in keeping that promise.
“We made a promise that day to be here to help, and today, I think we’re making good on that promise: not just for Jersey City, but for eight other cities in this state by awarding $20 million dollars in Victims of Crime Act dollars, of VOCA money, to establish hospital-based intervention programs,” he explained.
Grewal further stated that the goal of the programs is to disrupt the cycle of violence for each individual, as well as to address mental health issues, also noting that those who participate in HVIPs have a five percent recidivism rate, compared to 25 to 35 percent for those that don’t have access to those types of programs.
The presser stream live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: