What To Know Today

Linking trends between early pandemic job losses and rising violence. Researchers at the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, wanted to see if the two factors, which have dominated the news since 2020, were related. So they looked at unemployment and crime data for 16 American cities between January 2018 and July 2020. They found that the highest sustained unemployment rates between March and July 2020 correlated with 3.3 more gun violence incidents and 2 more homicides per city on average. Meanwhile, the lowest sustained levels of unemployment were paired with 8.4 fewer gun violence incidents and 4.5 fewer homicides per city on average. While correlation does not equal causation, the researchers did not find a link between unemployment rates and other types of crime, such as assault or theft, and suggested a connection with homicides and shootings specifically. “Our findings may help us understand why violence occurs and how to prevent it,” lead author Julia Schleimer said. “Policies that reduce unemployment or provide support to the unemployed might reduce violence and improve public health.” 

LA schools exchanged some school resource officers for better mental health resources for Black students. Capital B reports on the city school board’s 2021 decision to divert a third of the budget for armed school police officers — $25 million — toward an initiative that included adding 221 psychiatric social workers, counselors, and mediators to schools with a higher share of Black students. Students and practitioners spoke of positive results in year one. “School policing is taking away from mental health support of Black students,” said one 17-year-old student in Los Angeles who is working with students in other cities hoping to make similar changes. “And I feel like without mental health support the cycle of internalized harm and internalized self-doubt will continue.” New venture for a former Tracer: The article is one of the first for Capital B, which launched this week to provide news and investigations for Black audiences. Among the cofounders is Akoto Ofori-Atta, who was our managing editor until late 2020. We’re excited to see more from Akoto and her team, and hope you’ll check out their site!

A campaign to give families money for funeral services when they lose children to gun violence. A coalition of violence prevention groups and Illinois state lawmakers introduced a bill early this year that would cover funeral and burial expenses for low-income families. If enacted, the law would provide up to $10,000 for such costs. Supporters say the bill will make it easier to disburse financial support than the slow-moving and often-cumbersome application process for the state’s Crime Victims Compensation Act. “Lately, we live in a world where our children are leaving us,” Pamela Bosley, founder of a Chicago violence prevention group, told Block Club Chicago. “There are a lot of people in the Black and brown communities who don’t have insurance or funding.”

Activists want federal charges for ex-Chicago officer who killed Laquan McDonald. Jason Van Dyke has served just over three years for the 2014 shooting of the Black 17-year-old in Chicago. Ahead of Van Dyke’s release from prison today, local activists, members of McDonald’s family, and national groups like the NAACP have argued that the Justice Department should file civil rights charges against the ex-cop. While nothing would prevent federal prosecutors from taking that step, legal experts told WBEZ they doubted it would happen given the length of time since the original conviction.

Permitless carry continues its march across red states. State Senate committees in both Alabama and Georgia this week advanced bills to their respective full chambers that would remove permitting requirements for people to carry concealed weapons in public. Similar legislation has recently advanced in GOP-led legislatures in Indiana, Nebraska, and Ohio, while permitless carry bills passed into law in six states last year

​​The Trace is hiring a community engagement specialist in Chicago! As The Trace’s first local engagement staffer in the Windy City, this person will get to know the people living with the impacts of gun violence every day, and help us figure out how our journalism can serve their needs. This full-time position will start in the winter or spring of 2022, and provide the option of working from home or joining our other Chicago staff in a shared workspace. The salary range is $57,000 to $79,000. Interested in applying? Read the full listing and application requirements here. Know someone who might be? Help us spread the word by sharing our tweet about the opening.

Data Point

460 — the number of people shot in Seattle’s surrounding King County, Washington, last year, including 88 who died. That surpassed the record-high numbers of 2020, when there were 69 gun homicides and 268 nonfatal shootings. [The Seattle Times]