Crime Prevention

"Gang violence is connected to bullying is connected to school violence is connected to intimate partner violence is connected to child abuse is connected to elder abuse. It's all connected. We operate in these silos that we've got to break down." —Deborah Prothrow-Stith, M.D., Dean, Drew College of Medicine

The State of American Crime

Among all industrialized nations, the United States ranks at the top in violent crime. We have the highest homicide rates, seven times higher than the average for others. For much of the neighborhoods and communities throughout the country, our local governments have failed to supply effective crime prevention solutions.  

The biggest group of victims experiencing violence in America is children. We have some of the highest levels of youth violence and crime in the developed world. Youth violence is a leading cause of injury and death for young Americans aged 15 to 24 years. At some point in their lifetime, 54.5 percent of children and adolescents (age 0 to 17) experience some form of physical assault. Moreover, nearly a third of women in the United States have reported domestic violence.

In addition to the horrible price of violence for the people who experience it, crime and violence cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars each year. According to a study by the Institute for Economics and Peace, the annual cost of police, justice systems, corrections facilities, and lost productivity from violent crime, homicide, and robbery, is over $3,000 for each U.S. taxpayer, or $460 billion for the United States economy.

Yet, violence and crime don’t happen in a vacuum, and a holistic response to this issue requires a deeper focus on its causes, as well as crime prevention solutions. Many of the underlying causes have been left unattended for far too long, and merely addressing symptoms is unlikely to fundamentally reverse the tragic trajectory of violence in America.

Research has shown that many of our citizens who live in the most violent, crime-ridden parts of our nation suffer the same kind of emotionally and physically debilitating PTSD as do veterans coming home from war. Yet for these people, the war is never over and the trauma is unending as these communities have become a breeding ground for continuing violence. Ultimately, it produces a crippling effect on their lives.

Addressing Crime & Violence Prevention

In America, our approach to managing violence and crime has typically trended towards largely ineffective punitive approaches, ignoring the underlying causes of our problems. In addition, the punitive -- rather than rehabilitative -- approach to holding violent criminals accountable only increases the statistical probability that, once released, such criminals will again perpetrate acts of violence.

What we know from ample research about violence and crime prevention in our communities is that crime can be drastically reduced. We have the wisdom and expertise to make positive shifts in the circumstances, both internal and external, that are likely to erupt in violent behavior.

What we are lacking is the willpower to invest in serious violence-prevention programs.

The federal government can support violence prevention through funding of course, but also through coordination, research, and sharing of best practices. We need to address whole systems and foster collaboration among federal, state and local agencies. Cities need strategic plans to prevent violence and coordinated efforts across multiple sectors to communicate with each other and community members. A Marianne Williamson presidency would initiate a far more serious, strategized focus on violence prevention as a response to violence and crime in America.

Effective Solutions to Crime & Violence


Improve Community Outreach and Interruption

The Williamson Administration will:

  • Fund an increase in the number of Community outreach workers, particularly in underserved regions.  
  • Charge Community Outreach workers with helping a plethora of issues – from rehabilitated gang members to community elders – which will help prevent crime in these communities by monitoring, detecting and interrupting violence. These practices have shown to reduce violence (including shootings and homicides) by up to 70 percent in neighborhoods hardest hit by violence. Another human being to help you change your life while there is still time is a far more humane and effective approach to transformation than an entire system that exists to punish you if you don’t.

Trauma-Informed Child- and Family-Service Systems

The Williamson Administration will:

  • Create an approach in which all parties involved in a child’s life recognize and respond to the impact of the child’s traumatic stress.
  • Create “wrap-around services” (multi-systemic and functional family therapy) to provide a whole-systems approach through intensive family and community-based treatment programs focused on addressing all environmental systems that impact chronic and violent juvenile offenders — from their homes and families, to schools and teachers, to neighborhoods and friends.

Police and At-Risk Youth Relationship Building

The Williamson Administration will:

  • Fund workshops and intensive retreats so that communities can bring together law enforcement and troubled youth, in order to reduce disproportionate contact with law enforcement, deal with mistrust of the legal system, and create a more positive relationship between peace officers and young Americans.

Domestic Violence Prevention and Support Services

The Williamson Administration will:

  • Increase governmental support for families coping with these corrosive issues.
  • Such support will include emergency housing, emotional support, and tools that allow individuals and families to move forward personally and professionally.

Life Skills

The Williamson Administration will:

  • Encourage and fund, in schools and at the community level, the teaching of Social and Emotional learning modalities that engender self-awareness, empathy, impulse control, motivation and nonviolent communication & social skills.


The Williamson Administration will:

  • Increase funding at the national and local levels for peer-to-peer or adult-to-youth mentoring, which has been shown to be exceptionally effective at empowering students to succeed.

Community Policing

The Williamson Administration will:

  • Increase funding for community policing – a collaboration between the police and the community that identifies and solves community problems.  Thanks to community policing, all members of the community become active allies in the effort to enhance the safety and quality of neighborhoods through increased contact and communication.  

Quality After-School and Out-of-School Programming

The Williamson Administration will:

  • Provide resources for youth to engage in positive activities in their communities, both after school, and outside of school, so that these habits become principles and skills that students can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Parenting Skills and Other Family Support Services

The Williamson Administration will:

  • Coordinate and improve the existing network between support services that pertain to crime and violence prevention, all of which are vital for the empowerment of thousands of American communities, and millions of American families, youth, and women.  


As president, I will support the establishment of a US Department of Peace, in order to coordinate domestic violence prevention efforts in conjunction with the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies. Throughout America there are extraordinary and extraordinarily successful peace-building efforts, whose efficacy would be exponentially increased through a higher level of coordination and government support. Aligning federal initiatives, establishing joint funding streams, coordinating data systems, and sharing evaluation strategies with our states, cities and communities would give sophisticated techniques of violence prevention the primacy they deserve.


While some would argue that these crime prevention programs “cost too much,” the reality is that they decrease the losses caused by violence in the US economy. A study by the non-partisan Washington State Institute for Public Policy found that diversion and mentoring programs produced $3.36 of benefits for every dollar spent, aggression replacement training produced $10 of benefits for every dollar spent, and multi-systemic therapy produced $13 of benefits for every dollar spent - in terms of reduced violence, crime and the cost to taxpayers.

However, no matter how much we do to prevent violence in the aforementioned ways, what matters as well is the realization that economic injustice, of itself, is a form of violence. Large groups of desperate people are a national security risk, whether in a corner of an American city or anywhere else in the world. For desperate people do desperate things. Ameliorating human despair is not just a sacred obligation of right living; it is the most powerful technique as well for the healing of our societies.

I address many other important issues related to crime and violence in my mass incarceration and criminal justice sections.

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