Our friend, Lynn, sent me this article. If we really want to reduce crime, WE MUST DO MORE OF THESE PROGRAMS!
Excerpts from the Article:
County leaders will use nearly $665,000 in grant money to reduce gun violence and help ex-prisoners reintegrate. The grants were reviewed and approved Nov. 5 by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. They were spurred in part by a 2018 Safety and Justice Challenge study paid for by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, county Community Development Specialist Aisha Shepherd told commissioners. The foundation’s goal is to reduce jail numbers, address racial disparities and increase community engagement.
“Both violence and the justice system have desperate impacts on Black people living in Buncombe County,” Shepherd said.
Findings showed that of the first nine homicides of 2020, seven victims were Black men, she said.
“In 2019, Black people represented 6.3% of Buncombe County’s population, yet comprised 25% of the jail population and 69% of gun violence victims.”
Asheville Police block Fayetteville Street in West Asheville as a homicide is investigated on Jan. 13, 2020.
Pandemic jail reduction efforts released 40% of those in the county detention facility, or 158 people. That actually increased the racial disparity, with 33% of the remaining population being Black.
Shepherd said the county is now seeking proposals from community organizations for two $225,000 grants to help with the problems. One $50,000 grant would pay for the development of a comprehensive plan that addresses community safety and reduces gun violence.
A second $175,000 grant would be for a program working with communities most affected by gun violence. That work would include creating “intergenerational spaces that empower safety, trust and healing.”
Republican District 3 Commissioner Joe Belcher of Candler said he supported the efforts and felt some of the “root causes” came down to “lack of jobs and other resources,” particularly for those with criminal records.
Democratic Board Chair Brownie Newman of Asheville said that most places people lived in the county were safe. “But you know we have neighborhoods in our community that are not safe. And I think part of the struggle is you know we don’t want to come at this with the approach of, let’s just throw the most law enforcement resources to this as we can,” Newman said.
Police are part of the solution, he said, but a hard enforcement strategy could also increase the jail population, which goes against one of the goals. “We’ve got to think in other ways about this so I’m really glad we’re doing this process, I’m excited about what ideas might emerge from this.”
In Asheville, police have responded to 522 calls for service regarding a gun discharge or an individual who has been shot, from from Jan. 1 to Nov. 5. During that same time, 38 people have been shot in Asheville.
In a separate action, commissioners voted unanimously to accept a $439,883 grant from the Dogwood Health Trust to reduce recidivism and increase access to medical and mental health and substance use care for prisoners leaving the Buncombe Detention Facility and Swannanoa and Craggy Correctional Centers.
Dogwood was formed during the sale of the nonprofit Mission Hospital to the for-profit company HCA. Dogwood received the profits from the hospital sale and is tasked with distributing them to organizations that help increase the region’s health.