The Cure Violence program proposed for Guilford County has taken another step closer to becoming a reality.
Guilford County commissioners and Greensboro City Councilmembers serving on a committee exploring the initiative have instructed county and city staff to draw up a contract for the non-profit One Step Further Inc. to house and administer the program.
That non-profit is run by Greensboro City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson, who’s been in discussions with the city and county for about two months over the possibility of her non-profit taking possession of the program that attempts to reduce murders and violence in high crime areas. The meetings are closed to the public, but according to reliable reports Johnson has also participated in the meetings in her role as a city councilmember.
Cure Violence, as one of its strategies, uses ex-felons and others with a criminal past to go into high crime sections of cities and dissuade potential perpetrators from committing murders or other violent crimes.
Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston said that this contract phase of the talks should help nail down the details of the program as it would be implemented in Greensboro.
“We’ve instructed county and city staff to get with Yvonne and work out a contract,” Alston said.
He added that, once the contract is drawn up with input from all sides, the committee overseeing the Cure Violence initiative – which includes commissioners and City Councilmembers – will vote on the contract and, after an agreement is reached at the committee level, the contract will be presented to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and the Greensboro City Council for approval.
Alston is very optimistic that the Cure Violence program – which will cost about $600,000 to establish – will become a reality in Guilford County. Several Guilford County commissioners, however, have expressed serious concerns regarding issues of liability and cost, and they’ve also asked for more evidence of the effectiveness of the program.
In addition, some observers of the process have said that it could be a conflict of interest for Johnson’s organization to administer the program since it would be funded with about $300,000 from the Greensboro City Council on which she serves.
The current proposal calls for half of the funding to come from Guilford County and half from Greensboro. Alston said he expects the city and county will not need to continue to incur that level of expense in future years. He said there are grant writers among city and county staff that will likely be able to attract state, federal and private grant money and he added that the program won’t be needed forever if it’s effective.
“I hope they can work themselves out of business,” Alston said, suggesting the program can be disbanded after it brings down murder and violence in the area to very low levels.
Without the Cure Violence program the murder rate in Greensboro dropped 23 percent in 2018 while in Durham the only city in North Carolina that has a Cure Violence program the murder rate increased 60 percent in 2018.