For Immediate Release - November 20, 2008

Attorney General Martha Coakley and Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett Present Urban Violence Subcommittee Report to Governor Patrick's Anti-Crime Council

BOSTON - Today, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett, co-chairs of the Urban Violence Subcommittee of the Governor's Anti-Crime Council, presented the subcommittee's findings to Governor Deval Patrick and the other members of the Anti-Crime Council. The subcommittee's report, entitled " Urban Violence in the Commonwealth: Prevention, Intervention & Rehabilitation," outlines the subcommittee's recommendations for improving public safety and highlights a variety of innovative programs and initiatives across the state that can be used as models for addressing urban violence.

"Our subcommittee has worked diligently over the past year to examine the issue of urban violence from various perspectives," said Attorney General Coakley. "Our goal in preparing this report was to offer to practical and effective recommendations to the Governor to combat the violence that plagues our communities. While we recognize that resources are limited given the current economic situation, we hope that communities can be creative and work together to implement some of these recommendations."

"Hopefully this report helps us identify issues and strategies to assist young people in making good decisions," District Attorney Blodgett added.

In April 2007, Governor Patrick issued an executive order creating the Anti-Crime Council, a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary council tasked with focusing on the challenges facing crime victims, social service providers, and Massachusetts law enforcement organizations. Governor Patrick designated Attorney General Coakley and District Attorney Blodgett as the co-chairs of the council's Urban Violence Subcommittee, and asked the subcommittee to examine the prevalence, causes, and effective methods of deterrence of violence in our cities. Attorney General Coakley and District Attorney Blodgett gathered leaders with diverse perspectives about urban violence, including law enforcement, educators, business leaders, youth service agencies, and the clergy, to tackle the issue of urban violence. Through its members, the subcommittee solicited input from experts in the field in order to provide both public and private sector leaders with the most up-to-date analysis of this challenging issue. Today's report is the culmination of the subcommittee's work over the past 14 months.

"I want to thank Attorney General Coakley, District Attorney Blodgett, and all subcommittee members for their commitment to addressing some of our greatest public safety challenges in Massachusetts. I look forward to continuing to work with the Attorney General and District Attorney and all members of the Anti-Crime Council as we review these recommendations and find the best ways to partner with our community leaders and law enforcement officers to make Massachusetts safer."

The report begins with a foreword from James Alan Fox, Ph.D., renowned criminologist and Northeastern University professor. Dr. Fox's foreword lays the groundwork for the report, focusing on youth violence trends in Massachusetts and the need to reinvest in violence prevention efforts. Following this foreword, the report makes 10 recommendations for improving public safety in the Commonwealth that focus on prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation:

  1. Establish violence prevention councils in every community to assess risk factors, review local data, and advocate for the expansion of local violence prevention efforts.
  2. Sustain, amplify and replicate promising law enforcement initiatives that have reduced violence.
  3. Take immediate action to develop a strong system of accountability and re-entry support for violent offenders, including substance abuse treatment and job readiness training.
  4. Ensure access and availability of substance abuse treatment for all residents, regardless of income.
  5. Develop and implement effective truancy prevention programming and swift and effective responses to truancy and dropping out of school.
  6. Mandate comprehensive, violence prevention programs, including bullying prevention, for all public schools, from kindergarten through grade 12 and provide an appropriate level of funding to ensure implementation.
  7. Establish mechanisms to identify, immediately respond to, and treat children who witness violence.
  8. Support the development of job training and job development for youth ages 14 to 22.
  9. Ensure that all children have a caring adult or mentor in their lives by funding after-school programs throughout the state.
  10. Take aggressive steps to reduce access to and possession of illegal firearms.

To support the implementation of these recommendations, the report compiles programs offered across the Commonwealth that the subcommittee proposes as part of a comprehensive approach to tackling urban violence. The programs highlighted in the report are intended to be used as resources for those who are exploring new strategies to combat urban violence. The programs highlighted include:

  • Summer Jobs and School Year Internship Programs
  • Mentoring and Youth Development Programs
  • Public Health-Based Violence Prevention Programs
  • School-Based Anti-Violence Initiatives
  • Extended School Days
  • Youth Courts
  • Community Policing Initiatives

In addition to these programs, the report also suggests models for addressing urban violence through intervention, as well as through prisoner re-entry and post-release supervision and rehabilitation programs.

Attorney General Coakley and District Attorney Blodgett, along with other members of the Urban Violence Subcommittee, presented their report to Governor Patrick at today's Anti-Crime Council meeting. The report is available on the Attorney General's website: Urban Violence in the Commonwealth.

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