After 10 people were shot last weekend in Philadelphia, three of them fatally, U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey (D., Pa.) visited North Philadelphia on Wednesday to tout legislation that would invest federal funds in local crime prevention programs, saying the "school-to-prison pipeline" needs to be cut off.
"It's almost incalculable, the return on investment you get for the life of that young person," said Casey, who was joined by local leaders including District Attorney Seth Williams. "They turn their life around because of these interventions. We know it works. We have to make it more widely available.
The bill, known as the Youth PROMISE Act, would allocate up to 20 percent of the money the U.S. Department of Justice currently gives states for crime prevention mentorship programs directly to municipalities, which could use it to implement similar evidence-based programs in their communities.
Casey introduced a version of the bill in 2009, but it failed to gain traction. He said he was hopeful the bill will be embraced this time around and become part of a wider criminal justice overhaul undertaken by Congress, where such an effort has gained bipartisan support.
The bill has been backed by members of both parties, and was introduced jointly with Republicans James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma and David Vitter of Louisiana, as well as Democrat Gary Peters of Michigan.
"The bipartisanship is rooted in the reality of youth violence," Casey said. "It knows no bounds. It happens in urban areas, suburban communities, and all kinds of places in the country."