A 21-year old man killed Sunday in Philadelphia was the 333d homicide victim of 2005, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The tally for all of last year was 330. “This is totally outrageous,” Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson said yesterday. “When you put it all together, it’s one big problem. It’s a mess.”
It’s not as bad as the high: 500 slayings, in 1990. Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner, in charge of the homicide trial calendar, said sustained measures by law enforcement, the government, and the community are the only way to get the homicide rate under control. Johnson calls for more legislation to help get guns off the streets and create tougher penalties for those carrying guns illegally, tougher sentences for violent criminals, and more intervention programs for at-risk youths. He said 70 percent of the shooters and victims already have criminal records and are more likely to put themselves in dangerous situations. “We’re arresting them, but they’re not staying in jail,” Johnson said. An $800,000 state grant will pay for more detectives to investigate gun violations.