Ruppersberger Announces Violence Prevention Bill at University of Maryland Medical Center’s R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
(Baltimore, MD) – Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) today unveiled new legislation to expand hospital-based violence prevention programs around the country. The “End the Cycle of Violence Act” provides federal grants to hospitals that offer services to victims of violent crime while they are recovering from their injuries. It’s modeled off the Violence Intervention Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where a staggering 20 percent of patients are victims of violence, usually stabbings and shootings.
These patients are a captive audience, confined to a bed and off the streets, if only for a few days, program administrators say. Participants receive a bed-side assessment, counseling and social support. At Shock Trauma, participants have shown an 83 percent decrease in re-hospitalization due to intentional violent injury, a 75 percent reduction in criminal activity, and an 82 percent increase in employment.
“Violent crime costs American taxpayers more than $42 billion – from police, courts and jails, to the medical expenses of victims, to the lost wages to both victims and perpetrators,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “We need to find innovative solutions to stop the violence. University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center is clearly on the right track, and I hope this bill will enable other hospitals around the country to model their strategy.”
The bill, H.R. 2464, requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to select 10 existing violence prevention programs to receive a $750,000 federal grant for expanding services or studying effectiveness. At the end of a 3-year pilot, each hospital will report its findings back to the federal government. The bill is cosponsored by Congresswoman Ann Kuster (D-NH).
“As the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, I’ve seen the pervasiveness of violence in our country and its horrific consequences,” said Kuster. “The urgency with which we must strengthen prevention and education efforts to help end this scourge cannot be understated. I am proud to join with Congressman Ruppersberger to help introduce the End the Cycle of Violence Act. By providing critical funding to trauma centers and nonprofit organizations heavily engaged in serving victims of violence, this legislation will help enhance prevention strategies and make our communities safer.”
Trauma centers see many “repeat customers” caught in a revolving door of violent re-injury. In fact, one of the leading risk factors for violent injury is a prior violent injury. The Violence Intervention Program at Shock Trauma evaluates patients for needs ranging from groceries to bus money. The program can connect patients with job training services, housing support and substance abuse treatment.
“This important proposed legislation will authorize much needed funds to expand important violence intervention programs that struggle for sustainable funding to help break the cycle of violence,” said Thomas Scalea, MD, Francis X. Kelly Distinguished Professor of Trauma, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland. “Here in Baltimore, violence continues at an unprecedented rate. Trauma centers throughout the country see these similar challenges. Violence intervention programs have been proven to provide the necessary resources and expertise that make a difference in people’s lives.”
The bill is endorsed by many law enforcement and healthcare organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, American College of Surgeons, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National League of Cities, National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs, National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) and Cure Violence.
“Violent crime in our country increased 6.8 percent between 2013-2017. Finding innovative solutions to counter this troubling trend is critical and we know we must explore new methods to reduce violence in our local communities. In short, law enforcement needs new partners,” said Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, representing more than 348,000 members in every region of the nation. “The bill Mr. Ruppersberger has introduced will identify 10 existing violence prevention or intervention programs administered by State and local trauma centers to receive Federal support for their work to reduce violent crime in our communities. We look forward to working with him on this effort and are grateful for his consistent support of law enforcement.”
“Trauma surgeons are frequently the ones treating patients injured due to cyclical violence,” said Eileen Bulger, MD, FACS, who is the Chair of the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma. “We see firsthand the need for better research into effective methods of breaking this cycle. The research that will be supported by this legislation and the best practices and lessons learned that will be disseminated will save lives. The American College of Surgeons thanks Congressman Ruppersberger for his efforts to address this problem.”
“The NAACP supports and endorses H.R. 2464 , the Stop the Violence Act of 2019, and we would like to thank Congressman Ruppersberger for his innovation and leadership in introducing this bill,” said Hilary O. Shelton, the Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and the Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy. “The importance of wraparound services for victims of violent crimes has proven more effective with each case of its use. We need coordinated, innovative solutions. This bill offers a solid approach to addressing the challenges victims of violent crimes experience.”
“The NDAA is excited to endorse the End the Cycle of Violence Act upon its reintroduction in the 116th Congress,” said NDAA President Jonathan Blodgett, District Attorney for Essex County, Massachusetts. “As a member of the Prosecutors Working Group and former Assistant State’s Attorney in Maryland, Congressman Ruppersberger recognizes the need to provide wraparound services for victims of violent crime. The bill takes important steps to advance this goal by selecting ten existing violence prevention programs to receive federal grant money to expand services offered to those harmed by violent crime. All too often, victims are left out of the conversation surrounding the criminal justice system. NDAA thanks Congressman Ruppersberger for reintroducing this important legislation and looks forward to working alongside his office to pass the proposed bill.”
“We at Cure Violence commend Congressman Ruppersberger for investing in proven health approaches that will ultimately reduce violence, save lives and save public dollars,” said Charles Ransford, Director of Science and Policy at Cure Violence Global.
The bill is also applauded by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO).
“We are pleased to see that this is a victim-centered bill with wraparound services for victims of violent crime while they are recovering from their injuries,” said Mo Canady, NASRO’s Executive Director. “We are an association that has always been concerned about victims’ rights, especially those who have suffered as the result of violent crime.