Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter has been interested in youth crime problems for three decades as a prosecutor and lawmaker. He will hold a hearing Monday in his hometown of Philadelphia on what he calls an epidemic of youth and gang violence in the city and the nation, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Specter cited a rash of homicides involving juvenile victims or assailants, including the fatal shooting of a 10-year-old boy caught last year in a cross fire at a school.
Specter wants to review the effectiveness of federally funded programs. Pennsylvania receives $160 million a year in federal funding for juvenile-violence programs. “There are indications that a fair number of these programs are not working,” the senator said, “and others may be duplications.” Specter, who also heads a subcommittee that funds the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, will explore the possibility of “earmarking,” or designating CDC funding for programs in Philadelphia and other parts of the state. Gang violence is a national problem, said Specter. “It’s hard to pick up a paper without seeing a child who is a bystander gunned down.”