New Jersey will require violence intervention programs at certain hospitals

Aug 6, 2019

New Jersey will require certain hospitals to have intervention programs aimed at breaking the cycle of violence for the state’s most at-risk residents, under a package of new laws signed Monday.

Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, D-Camden, said research has shown that the victims of violence are more likely to become victims again or even perpetrators in the future, which is why intervention programs are crucial.

Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signs violence intervention legislation. (Edwin J. Torres/Governor's Office)

“New Jersey does have the ability on its own to touch these victims in a real way, in a significant way, that can forever change the course of violence in their families’ lives and ultimately affect the lives of untold families across this state and maybe across this country,” Greenwald said.

New Jersey’s only hospital-based violence intervention program is at University Hospital in Newark. One of the new laws would require such programs at any hospital certified as a Level 1 or Level 2 trauma center.

Kyle Fischer, policy director for the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs, said the goal is to create an individualized recovery plan for each patient that can last for months after they return home. “If someone’s been shot, trauma doesn’t end just because you’ve been discharged from the hospital,” he said.

Those services can include physical and mental health care, education assistance, therapy, and even things like tattoo removal. “No patient is exactly the same,” Fischer remarked.

The network has programs across the country in cities including Oakland, San Francisco, Baltimore, Boston, and Milwaukee.

The New Jersey bills were signed Monday afternoon, as the nation continued to reel from two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend that left 31 dead and dozens injured.

Last week, a shooting at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California left four people dead, including the shooter.

New Jersey Acting Governor Sheila Oliver said the recent bursts of mass violence showed why these new strategies were necessary.

“Gilroy, California. [El Paso,] Texas. Dayton, Ohio,” Oliver said. “Three all-American legacy cities now linked by what is rapidly becoming the most all-American instance.”