By Katharine Browning, Senior Policy Advisor, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and Eddie Bocanegra, Senior Advisor, Office of the Assistant Attorney General
Community-based violence intervention (CVI) is an approach that uses evidence-informed strategies to reduce and prevent crime through tailored community-centered initiatives. These multidisciplinary strategies engage individuals and groups to prevent and disrupt cycles of violence and retaliation. Key to these approaches is establishing relationships between individuals and community assets to deliver services that save lives, address trauma, provide opportunity, and improve the physical, social, and economic conditions that drive violent crime.
CVI efforts typically focus on high-risk individuals with a history of committing and/or experiencing gun violence and the historical and structural cultural challenges they encounter that result in community violence. This is accomplished through the expertise of representatives, many of whom are formerly incarcerated individuals from the affected communities. These mentors, also known as “credible messengers,” contribute guidance on the best intervention methods, using practices that are informed by the impact of trauma on individuals and the broader population in historically underinvested communities.
Providing support for CVI programs that contribute to the reduction and prevention of future community-based violence is a priority for Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and is being implemented by BJA. Through the FY23 Office of Justice Programs Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative (CVIPI), BJA provides funding to prevent and reduce violent crime in communities by supporting comprehensive, evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs, including efforts to address gang and gun violence, based on partnerships among community residents, local government agencies, victim service providers, community-based organizations, law enforcement, hospitals, researchers, and other community stakeholders.
Programs funded under this initiative take care to ensure that the community members most affected and most disenfranchised are included in identifying CVI strategies. Another key component of these programs is generating data that can be used to measure the effect of intervention as a method for reducing and preventing violence and promoting community wellbeing.
Since 2022, OJP has funded nearly $200 million to CVIPI grantees nationally and has plans for additional funding for CVIPI programs.
In this issue of Justice Matters, we share two stories from grantees that demonstrate the transformative and life-changing work occurring in community-based violence intervention programs and represent the diversity of CVI strategies currently underway. For more information about CVI core elements and guidance on implementing a CVI program, have a look at this checklist.
We certainly hope that the stories in this issue inspire you and that you will be encouraged by these examples to apply for grant funding or training and technical assistance in the coming year.