The number of young murder victims in Boston has nearly doubled since last year, while arrests by the city’s Youth Violence Strike Force have dropped, reports the Boston Globe. Twenty-two people under the age of 24 had been murdered as of Monday, compared with 13 by that date last year. The number of people the strike force arrested on charges involving violent crimes and property crimes dropped by 14 percent — from 314 to 271 — for both years. Police officials and community leaders attributed the sharp rise in young murder victims in part to the growth in the city’s juvenile population. They also cited frustrations faced by convicted felons who are released from prison and find few job opportunities.
Police officials said they have plans to address the increased violence, including working with felons who go back into the communities, offering job support, and counseling to avoid returning to their past violent habits. Superintendent Paul Joyce said the department plans to launch an unsolved shootings project to get witnesses to come forward. “The thing that disturbs me is a lot of kids are thinking the way they did in the early ’90s,” police superintendent James Claiborne said, referring to a period of significant gang violence in Boston. ” ‘You have to have a gun,’ ‘The only way to solve a problem is to shoot somebody’ . . . That frightens me.” Mayor Thomas Menino and Bolice Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole have met in recent days to discuss ways of limiting the number of guns on the street. O’Toole said officials are considering ways to tighten gun laws in Massachusetts, specifically concerning where guns may be carried — such as parks. Officials are also looking at how they might stem the tide of guns coming in from out of state. Menino said he is developing a business tax credit program for firms that hire felons as a way to help former convicts reenter society.