February 12th, 2009 12:52 EST
New Federal Legislation Calls for $8.5 Billion to Stop the Spread of Violence
65 Representatives, thousands of citizens support call for institutional heft to dramatically reduce violence in America
A ground-breaking piece of legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives calls for the United States to make reducing and preventing violence a strategic policy objective, and provides an estimated $8.5 billion to address the pandemic just in the United States, with additional $1.5 Billion for funding to address violence internationally.
"We have the ability to create jobs, save lives and save billions of dollars by addressing the spread of a dangerous disease in this country "the pandemic of violence," said Lynn McMullen, executive director of The Peace Alliance, the national nonpartisan nonprofit organization supporting the growing grassroots movement in all 50 states to establish a U.S. Department of Peace.
"It`s easy in these challenging times to imagine that the economic and environmental challenges we face are somehow independent of the cause of peace," McMullen added. "The truth is, when we reduce and prevent violence we simultaneously help our economy and our environment."
The bill, HR 808, seeks to create a U.S. Department of Peace that would provide a platform from which to launch a strategic, scientifically based approach to reducing and preventing violence in the U.S. and internationally.
"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that violence can be prevented through a thoughtful, systematic approach," added Wendy Greene, Peace Alliance managing director. "We have the know-how; what we lack is the political will and visionary leadership to put peacebuilding at its rightful place: central to our policy making and national investment."
H. 808 was introduced by Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) with 62 cosponsors already on board. Two more members of Congress signed on almost immediately after introduction.
"Violence is not free. It is costing us about $300 billion per year according to a World Health Organization report," McMullen added." We cannot afford to let violence at its current levels continue. Now is the time for every American citizen to come together and tell Congress to support a Department of Peace so we can dramatically reduce the spread of violence in this country, save billions of dollars and thousands of lives every year," she said.
When created, the Department will be headed by a Cabinet-level Secretary of Peace appointed by the President (with the advice and consent of the Senate), and will work to expand the nation`s capacity to strategically develop and apply practical, cost-effective and proven means of resolving conflict before it erupts into violence, both domestically and internationally. It will provide unprecedented financial and institutional heft to strengthen and complement our current approaches to violence, focusing on prevention through multi-layered nonviolent strategies.
Domestically, the Department will develop policies and allocate resources to support local communities in finding, funding and replicating effective violence-reduction and prevention programs. Internationally, the Department will focus on understanding and addressing the root causes of violence, providing the President and Congress with expert resources for nonviolently defusing international crises and conflicts. A Peace Academy, on par with the military service academies, will provide a four-year course of instruction after which graduates will serve five years in public service programs dedicated to domestic or international nonviolent conflict resolution.
McMullen encouraged the public to join the organization`s upcoming National Conference, March 20-23, 2009, in Washington DC. "Participants will learn about cutting-edge technologies in violence prevention, be empowered as citizen activists, and go to Capitol Hill to encourage their elected officials to support violence reduction and prevention, and HR 808 specifically," she noted.
"We as citizens must become personally and passionately involved in the issue of violence reduction or it will continue to destroy far too many hopes, dreams and lives," McMullen said.
About The Peace Alliance:
The Peace Alliance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization supporting a growing grassroots movement active in all 50 states to pass legislation to reduce and prevent violence, and to create a U.S. Department of Peace. The bill, HR 808, is currently cosponsored by 65 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including the original sponsor.
For more information on The Peace Alliance, HR 808 and the campaign to establish a U.S. Department of Peace, please visit www.thepeacealliance.org.