Sudden and tragic, gun violence is increasing in Madison and the surrounding area, bringing both heartbreak and a thirst for revenge. For four months, the Wisconsin State Journal has been speaking with perpetrators, victims, emergency responders, doctors and those who study the root causes of violence to understand why it’s happening and what it might take to stop it.
Reporting by Dean Mosiman, Wisconsin State Journal
Gun violence in Madison | Cycles of trauma: Part One
Unaddressed trauma during childhood can have devastating impacts on future health and behavior, sometimes leading to violence. Meanwhile, more young people are carrying weapons.
A small but rising number of teens and young adults, often with a history of unaddressed trauma, are turning to guns to settle disputes and retaliate for slights real or imagined.
Unaddressed, trauma can be toxic to a child's developing brain, dramatically increasing the chance of high-risk behaviors like smoking, substance abuse, early sexual activity and violence.
Those who study the root causes of violence nationally and in Wisconsin are turning to a common survey tool to inform public policy.
Gun violence in Madison | Cycles of trauma: Part Two
The agony caused by gun violence, and a new effort by the city, Dane County, the faith community, nonprofits, UW Hospital and others to create a rapid, comprehensive response.
Madison has never had an entity like the Community Safety Intervention Team, created in response to a jump in gun crimes and an alarming new trend: killings in public places in broad daylight.
"We didn't know this was going to happen. I didn't see our lives being threatened," said the girlfriend of one victim. "It just opened my eyes that someone can be gone so quickly."
Madison police are employing dual strategies in high-crime areas, one positive engagement and the other enforcement.
Gun violence in Madison | Cycles of trauma: Part Three
The rise of the Focused Interruption Coalition of faith and community leaders, and how formerly incarcerated peers help those affected by violence and seek to prevent retaliation.
No one else in Madison is doing the work of the Focused Interruption Coalition, a community and faith-based organization.
Over the course of 25 days, three young men would be killed in the city's first series of retaliatory murders to occur in public places.
Their currency is the lived experience of personal trauma, prison and the hard, tedious work it takes to get one's life back on track, combine…
Gun violence in Madison | Cycles of trauma: Part Four
The trauma of incarceration and its effect on individuals, their children and families, and how peer support can help those in jail or prison re-enter the community.
Necessary in many cases, incarceration nevertheless can compound the effect of childhood trauma, make some problems worse and separate families.
The program, reserved for the city's most prolific violent offenders, offers help from service providers or swift and stern punishment if they commit new crimes.
"We do have some happy times, but we do go to a lot of funerals," Dane County Jail teacher Deb Anderson said. "It's a heartbreaking place, but it's a hopeful place."
Their journeys from the trauma of youth, through criminal pasts and prison, to personal transformation make them uniquely positioned to help o…
Gun violence in Madison | Cycles of trauma: Part Five
Madison and Dane County are following larger cities to create a public health response to violence, backed by science that says violence is a disease and curable.
Mayor Paul Soglin and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi are vowing additional funding in their 2019 budgets to build on recent initiatives.
Madison and Dane County are adopting a public health approach to violence that's based on data, science and the voices of those most affected in the community.
Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Oakland have suffered jumps in gun violence, employing hospital-based and public health initiatives in an attempt to stop it.