Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Senators discuss youth violence

Well, the Senate Judiciary Committee field trip to Philadelphia that so perplexed me has now occurred. The Inquirer's summary of the testimony boils down to this:
If every child had good parents, did well at school, and stayed off drugs, Philadelphia would have gone a long way toward preventing youth violence, a variety of experts said at a Senate hearing here yesterday.

Otherwise, bringing the hammer down by targeting specific law-breakers in specific neighborhoods is the best way to prevent young people from shooting each other...
One of the themes running through testimony about local efforts was that even successful programs were limited by their funding shortages:
Hart said successful approaches include "systematic analyses" of high-crime areas and intensive coordination among police, probation, courts and prosecutors. Disrupting illegal gun markets also is important, she said.

Project Safe Neighborhoods, a federal and local effort in West Philadelphia, uses all those tactics, but there is no money to expand it throughout the city. A similar program in parts of North and Southwest Philadelphia is the Youth Violence Reduction Partnership, but it, too, cannot expand because money is lacking.
Unfortunately, this is just one hearing, to be followed by others in DC (says Specter), so no programs or new solutions were discussed. Further, many folks will be unhappy with this tidbit:
Tougher gun-control laws, long sought by city officials, were dismissed by Specter and Santorum.
Indeed, the Daily News report of the occasion notes that the whole notion of these "field hearings" outraged many locals, especially anti-gun activists, who dismissed the event as a mere photo op.
"This guy who is owned by the gun lobby comes to Philadelphia to put on a dog-and-pony show about youth violence. His job is to make laws, but he does nothing about taking guns off the streets."

Howard, Miller and others in their camp pointed out that both Specter and Sen. Rick Santorum, R. Pa., who participated in the hearing at the Constitution Center, voted in 2004 against renewing the federal assault weapons ban, which expired last September.
It goes on from there. Yeowch!


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