House Passes Blunt Rochester’s Break the Cycle of Violence Act

Washington, September 22, 2022 | Andrew Donnelly (302-893-4406)

WASHINGTON – Today, in a the House of Representatives passed the groundbreaking, bipartisan Break the Cycle of Violence ActThe bill was introduced early in the 117th Congress by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) in the House of Representatives and by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the United States Senate. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act would provide federal grants to communities for evidence-informed gun violence intervention and prevention programs designed to interrupt cycles of violence.


Research has shown that a combination of community-oriented intervention programs and commonsense gun violence prevention policies can cut gun violence rates in urban cities in half in as little as two years. In our nation’s urban centers, homicide rates are nearly 20 times the national average and has a disproportionate impact on young people of color. In fact, Black men and boys, who make up just 6 percent of the U.S. population, account for 63 percent of all homicide victims. From 2015 to 2019, African-American children and teens were 14 times as likely to be shot to death as their white peers. Hispanic and Native American children and teens were both nearly three times as likely to be shot to death as their white peers.


While the human cost of gun violence is agonizing, the economic costs for communities and taxpayers is similarly staggering. Gun violence costs the United States $280 billion every year—with each American bearing $700 of this cost annually. A single gun homicide costs taxpayers $448,000 in medical and criminal justice expenses. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act would be an effective solution to saving both lives and taxpayer dollars.


Recently, Congress passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun violence prevention legislation in nearly 30 years, with President Biden signing it into law on July 11, 2022. Crucially, the bill contains $2 billion in funding for anti-violence programs, including $250 million in community violence intervention programs. The bill more than quadruples funding for a new, public-health focused grant program, based on provisions in the Break the Cycle of Violence Act that is evidence-based and designed to reduce the gun violence.


“The rise in violent crime we have seen across the country, and specifically the rise of gun-related crimes is extremely alarming and must be addressed. We also know that all too often, gun violence is a vicious cycle of shootings and retaliation that leave communities traumatized and robs our youth of opportunity,” said Blunt Rochester. “It is all of our obligation to break that cycle. The recent Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was an important first step in breaking the cycle, but we know that we still must do more. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which I introduced alongside my colleagues Representative Horsford and Senator Booker last year, is a historic investment in both community and hospital-based violence intervention strategies, as well as job resources and opportunities for violence-affected youth. This multi-sector approach to addressing violence also shifts the paradigm through which we view policy and recognizes that the violence in our communities is a public health epidemic. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act invests in the kind of wraparound services that can not only help address the symptoms of violence we see in our communities but also address the root causes of that violence. This historic legislation will not only help break the cycle of gun violence – it will help create opportunity for our young people and help our communities thrive. I’m thrilled about the bill’s passage in the House today and am hopeful the Senate will take up this legislation swiftly so we can it get to President Biden’s desk for signature. ”


Several studies have shown that the violence prevention and intervention programs this bill would fund have been successful in reducing gun violence in their communities. Richmond, California invested millions of dollars in violence reduction programs and saw a 70 percent drop in gun homicides between 2007 and 2016. In Massachusetts, gun homicide rates fell by 35 percent from 2010 to 2015 when they implemented public health approaches with its Safe and Successful Youth Initiative, while national rates increased 14 percent within that same period. In Oakland, California, gun homicides and nonfatal shootings have fallen by 50 percent since 2012, as a result of a citywide violence reduction plan, known as Oakland Ceasefire.


Specifically, the Break the Cycle of Violence Act would do the following: 


  • Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award $5 billion in grants over eight years to community-based, nonprofit organizations and eligible units of local government to create and/or support:
    • Community outreach programs; 
    • Hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIP) that provide intensive counseling, peer support, case management, mediation, and social services to patients recovering from gunshot wounds and other violent injuries.
    • Group violence intervention strategies, which are a form of problem-oriented policing that provides targeted social services and support to individuals at highest risk for involvement in community violence, and a process for community members to voice a clear demand for the violence to stop.
    • Violence interruption and crisis management initiatives. 


  • Create an Office of Community Violence Intervention at the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the Act. 


  • Establish a Community Violence Intervention Advisory Committee to provide advice and assistance to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Community Violence Intervention to carry out the Act. 


  • Create a National Community Violence Response Center to provide technical assistance to grantees in the implementation of coordinated community violence intervention and prevention programs funded through the grant program. 


  • Direct the Secretary of the Department of Labor to create a $1.5 billion grant program for eligible organizations and units of local government to provide job training, education, apprenticeship, skilled trades training, or other paid or unpaid work experiences for opportunity youth in communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence. 


 The full text of the legislation can be viewed here.




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