Public Health Solutions With Immediate Impact on Crime

PARIS WILL IMPLEMENT PUBLIC HEALTH SOLUTIONS WITH IMMEDIATE IMPACT ON CRIME

Paris is prepared to tackle public safety challenges through a public health lens to immediately reduce crime. Paris knows that if we want safer communities, we need solutions that go beyond policing and address root causes with evidence-based practices. At the same time, it is crucial to provide our communities relief now, by implementing solutions that have short term, as well as medium and longer term effects. Paris will implement solutions that further address public safety issues through a public health lens, and prioritize action on solutions that immediately begin reducing crime in the short term. 

  • Hospital-based violence intervention programs. We should be taking better advantage of our local world-class hospital systems in order to enact evidence-based strategies to interrupt cycles of violence. Here in Maryland, Prince George’s County is doing just that with their Capital Violence Intervention Program (CAP-VIP), (FN9) a hospital-based program that provides trauma-informed care and psychological services to individuals who have experienced violence. This program has been credited for saving lives and preventing future occurrences of violence. (FN10) In a City like Baltimore where we experience thousands of violent crimes each year, a program like CAP-VIP  that seeks to prevent the likelihood of trauma recidivism would have a significant impact. As Councilwoman, Paris will:
    • Bring together stakeholders from law enforcement and Baltimore’s hospitals to study CAP-VIP and develop a plan to implement a similar program in Baltimore City.
  • Ending human trafficking and reducing harm through decriminalization of sex work. Paris will address sex work with a harm reduction approach and a human rights framework, pursuing decriminalization, education, and empowerment. Paris recognizes the distinction between consensual sex work and human trafficking, which involves an element of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of exploitation. (FN11) Criminilization makes sex workers more vulnerable to violence, trafficking, and exploitation by creating barriers to accessing public health resources, economic resources, and victims’ services. It pushes more sex workers into dangerous street sex work than would otherwise choose to do so. As Councilwoman, Paris will:
    • Partner with the State’s Attorney’s Office, BPD, health care professionals, communities, and advocates to end the arrest and prosecution of sex workers.
    • Work to replace outreach by the criminal justice system with safe access to education and economic empowerment, medical and addiction treatment, and peer support. 
  • Expanding the Crisis Response Team. Sometimes people will call 911 to report an individual who is experiencing a behavioral health crisis, such as a psychotic episode or a drug overdose. The Baltimore Police Department has piloted a crisis response team (FN12) where officers are paired with social workers when responding to these calls. This was implemented in direct response to a United States Department of Justice finding (FN13) that officers were not properly trained in de-escalating situations, and thus responded improperly to individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The USDOJ determined that 20% of BPD use of force incidents involved individuals with mental disabilities or in crisis, a rate that should be eliminated altogether. As Councilwoman, Paris will: 
    • Work with BPD, the Mayor, and City Council colleagues to expand this pilot program into permanent Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) (FN14) operating at scale for the City. 
  • Better supports for returning citizens. More than 9,000 people are released from Maryland correctional facilities each year, (FN15) with as many as 60% returning to Baltimore City. (FN16) Currently, returning citizens do not receive adequate support for reentry into society, resulting in a high recidivism rate: an estimated 73% of returning citizens in Baltimore City reoffend within three years of release. (FN17) High recidivism shows a failure to support returning citizens and their families and communities, and is also a major contributor to the overall rate of crime in Baltimore. There are many programs for returning citizens in Baltimore offered by various nonprofits and City agencies, but there is no clear roadmap to help returning citizens navigate and access these services. This lack of a centralized approach also impairs the ability of our community as a whole to respond to changing circumstances, such as when Maryland restored voting rights to returning citizens in 2016. (FN18) As Councilwoman, Paris will:
    • Establish an Office of Returning Citizens Affairs to reduce crime by providing returning citizens with a one-stop shop for the resources needed to successfully reintegrate into society. A more centralized approach would be a great help to the majority of Baltimoreans. 
    • Model this new office off of DC’s successful Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizens Affairs (MORCA), which has been having a positive impact in DC since its creation in 2007. (FN19) Services that can be accessed through MORCA include: job placement, education, expungement, housing, parenting skills, and physical and mental healthcare. 
  • Spearhead a public information campaign about restored voting rights for ex-offenders, because voting is a key social determinant of health. (FN20) The job of educating returning citizens about their rights has been left to under-resourced nonprofits and criminal justice advocates; as a result, many returning citizens still do not even know that they may vote. A public information campaign and strengthened partnerships with existing nonprofits and advocates would support successful reentry for returning citizens by better empowering them to vote.

9 University of Maryland Medical System, Violence Intervention Program “CAP-VIP”

10 WUSA9, Md. teen says intervention program saved his life after being shot in his home 

11 Amnesty International, Policy on State Obligations to Respect, Protect, and Fulfil the Human Rights of Sex Workers

12 Baltimore Sun, Baltimore police add crisis response team

13 USDOJ, Investigation of the Baltimore Police Department 

14 Amy Watson, PhD and Anjali J. Fulambarker, MSW, The Crisis Intervention Team Model of Police Response to Mental Health Crises: A A Primer for Mental Health Practitioners

15 Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, 2018 Sentenced Intakes and Releases

16 Urban Institute, A Portrait of Prisoner Reentry in Maryland

17 Baltimore Sun, Maryland should revive anti-recidivism program

18 Baltimore Sun, Released felons gain right to vote in Maryland after veto override

19 The George Washington University, A Data Needs Assessment for the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (MORCA)

20 Ballard, P., Hoyt, L., & Pachucki, M. (2018). Impacts of Adolescent and Young Adult Civic Engagement on Health and Socioeconomic Status in Adulthood. Child Development, pg. 1-17.