There is a saying, made famous by the criminal justice reformers Glenn Martin and Piper Kerman, that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution, but are also furthest from the resources and power to address it.
For Sherman Spears, his own experience of being shot and treated at a local Oakland hospital was a turning point in his life. He founded Youth Alive!’s Caught in the Crossfire, the first hospital-based violence intervention program. It has become a national model to reach young people like himself, to prevent retaliation and to promote healing and a positive path forward.
Criminal justice approaches to curbing gun violence are based on a bright line distinction between victims and perpetrators. But those who do harm have almost always experienced it themselves first – 90% of juveniles in the justice system have suffered violence, a recent study by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network found, with on average five violent traumas reported per child.
The emphasis on the victim/criminal distinction also assumes that punishment of those who caused the harm is sufficient care for those who have been hurt. But we know that the impact of trauma on victims has long-term effects that can only be healed in community. And that healing breaks the cycle of violence.
To read more of Anne Marks' article, please click here.