Community Voices Support for Holley Bill that Calls for Creation of State Division on Violence Prevention and Intervention

Community Voices Support for Holley Bill that Calls for Creation of State Division on Violence Prevention and Intervention

Bill Creates Partnership with Government, Community, Activists and
Clergy to Prevent Violence

ELIZABETH – September 15, 2020 – Local leaders and activists joined
with Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-20th Dist.) on the steps of the Union
County Courthouse today to voice support for his proposed legislation,
calling for the establishment of a state Division on Violence
Prevention and Intervention, within the state Department of Law and
Public Safety.

Holley, who has developed a statewide reputation for championing
social justice issues, said the proposed state legislation is among
the strongest he has ever written, calling for communities across the
state to have specific resources to finally prevent violence and
support families in crisis.

“This powerful, comprehensive bill would ensure each and every county
in our state provides well-coordinated and accessible violence
prevention resources to their residents,” Holley said, noting the
program hinges on local volunteer and community support in each
county.

Holley was joined today by former State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-20th
Dist.) and community activist Salaam Ismiall, as well as other local
leaders, all of whom proclaimed full support for the proposed law and
urge the state Legislature to quickly move the bill to Gov. Phil
Murphy for signature.

Lesniak noted the legislation emphasizes collaboration among all
agencies that work with at-risk populations, identifying cross-cutting
risk factors and prevention strategies.  “This law would establish
working groups, to foster the difficult discussions we need in areas
of homicide and suicide prevention, youth violence, drug abuse and
other issues that are jeopardizing the future of our youngest
generations,” the former senator said.

The bill also encourages local organizations that provide violence
prevention services to pursue grants, as well as provide the technical
assistance they need to secure funding.

Holley is also calling for a directory of existing violence prevention
services and activities in each county. The division would also
develop and recommend services to be funded by local governing bodies,
including interpersonal violence and suicide prevention programs.

“We also want this state division to identify vacant properties and
existing community spaces that may be transformed for use by local
organizations,” Holley said, noting these facilities would house
violence prevention activities and supportive services for at-risk
youth and their families.

The legislation also calls for:

·      Partnering with colleges and universities to develop an
evaluation tool for violence prevention and reduction strategies, as
well as to partner on securing the needed grants.

·      Providing assistance to ex-offenders who are transitioning back
into the community through employment assistance, treatment,
counseling and housing.

·      Incorporating the services of ex-offenders to serve as mentors
or role models for at-risk youth.

Ismiall, director of National United Youth Council, a social services
agency in Elizabeth, said street violence has become a public health
crisis.

“It’s totally out of control,” Ismiall said. “Cities all over the
state are crying out now. Violence has become more of a culture — and
even a way of life — to some of these kids on the street. With no
remorse, they’ll go to jail readily, some of them. That is why the
Assemblyman’s bill is so vital. It is a critical tool to turning the
tide to save the next generation.”

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