More resources should be allocated to help crime victims of color and their communities, Aswad Thomas wrote in the Sacramento Bee.
“It’s nearly impossible to focus on healing and safety while trying to pay medical bills, handle inquiries from law enforcement and return to work,” he said. “Services intended to help survivors are unknown or hard to find.”
Californians for Safety and Justice found that 1 in 5 Californians are victims of crime and the rate is higher among young people of color. What’s more, services to help crime victims were inaccessible to most of these young people, Thomas pointed out.
Thomas was offered the chance to play professional basketball until he suffered injuries from a robbery. He was shot twice in the back. While in recovery, he replaced his despair and resentment with a commitment to stop violence in communities of color, he wrote.
“We have to change the unfair stereotype that when youth of color are victims of crime, we must have been involved,” Thomas noted.
Realizing that community groups that have credibility with people in the community are under-funded, he works to organize young men to help their community. Thomas explained, “I began working with residents to call for peace and real solutions focused on preventing gun violence and healing our communities.”
The federal Victims of Crime Act has increased funding now — from $1.6 billion to nearly $2.4 billion. A portion of that should go to groups that are best equipped to help the under-served communities, Thomas wrote.
“If this money only goes to the same places, we should not expect different results,” Thomas insisted. “That’s why I’m working with California survivors to ensure that a portion of the state’s $232 million goes to groups best positioned to serve our most vulnerable communities.”