End Youth Violence, Promote Safer Communities

The cycle of violence and poverty in any community is a threat to every community. It threatens our fundamental belief in opportunity for all and it must stop.

- Governor Deval Patrick's Inaugural Address

Ending youth violence and improving public safety is one of the Commonwealth's top priorities.

The Patrick-Murray administration is developing and implementing a comprehensive statewide strategy for preventing youth violence. To build this policy the state will engage with the full spectrum of people who work with young people, both inside and outside of state government.

The administration's approach is focused on preventing violent crime while at the same time enabling young people to make positive choices and pursue more opportunities.

Working with the municipal and community coalitions in urban communities around the Commonwealth, state agencies will encourage a public health approach that focuses on:

  1. Deterring Youth Impacted by Violence
  2. Creating More Peaceful Communities
  3. Facilitating Community Reentry for Offenders
  4. Getting Guns off the Street

Deterring Youth Impacted by Violence

A coordinated intervention strategy will be focused on young men (age 14-24) identified as a high risk for becoming perpetrators or victims of gun violence.

The goal is to ensure that a full continuum of services - trauma informed case management, intensive supervision, employment, education and health care - are available and coordinated in each city and are reaching the young men most likely to commit or be victims of gun violence.

Creating More Peaceful Communities

While intervention activities will address violence in the short-term, long-term sustainability of a peaceful environment requires a community-wide embrace of prevention strategies known to restore peace.

Building strong and engaged communities, providing structured positive out-of-school time activities for younger siblings and children of highest risk youth, acknowledging and addressing the impact of trauma on a neighborhood or community, providing opportunities for youth leadership development and opportunities to learn alternative conflict resolution are all methods demonstrated to be effective in promoting peaceful environments.

Facilitating Community Reentry for Offenders

Massachusetts adult correctional facilities will continue their reentry work, which begins 12 months prior to release.

Young men who are reentering the community will connect with a case manager to begin the process of building a trusting relationship and developing a life reentry plan with a goal of having housing, employment and education plans in place at the time of discharge.

Getting Guns off the Street

A comprehensive strategy to youth violence prevention must include effective law enforcement intervention to protect the community from the most violent offenders, particularly those who use guns in gang-related violence and drug distribution.

The Administration will file legislation creating tougher gun laws that will allow law enforcement to hold "high impact" players accountable, and proposing a host of other measures to tighten existing gun laws.