Philadelphia Forum Highlights Opioids and Gun Violence in Pa. Attorney General Race

Philadelphia Forum Highlights Opioids and Gun Violence in Pa. Attorney General Race

DEBARYLIFE – The people running to be Pennsylvania’s next Attorney General say that some of their top goals as the state’s top law enforcement official would be to deal with the opioid crisis, gun violence, and public safety.

On Thursday, four of the finalists took part in a debate at the Public Health Management Corporation in Philadelphia. The event was hosted by Maiken Scott, who hosts and produces The Pulse at WHYY.

The attorney general’s office is in charge of all state law enforcement. It has power over everything from drug treatment programs for addicts to probation programs for young offenders.

The candidates who took part in the panel discussion were:

The Democratic Party’s candidate is Keir Bradford-Grey, who used to be the Chief Public Defender of Philadelphia.

Eric Settle, who is running for the Forward Party and used to be a Republican in Montgomery County.

Jared Solomon, a candidate for the Democratic Party and a state lawmaker from Northeast Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Forum Highlights Opioids and Gun Violence in Pa. Attorney General Race (1)

The Democratic Party’s candidate is Jack Stollsteimer, who is currently the district attorney for Delaware County. money for opioid settlements, care for addiction and reducing harm.

The state of Pennsylvania will get up to $1.07 billion over the next 18 years in settlement funds from nationwide cases against Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, which distributes drugs.

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Since 2023, payments have been made yearly to state agencies, cities, and counties. The money is meant to pay for programs that treat, prevent, and help people recover from addiction, but it could also be used for many other things.

Settling on how to spend the settlement money:

What needs to be done is to find out which projects will work in which counties. There are, of course, different areas in Pennsylvania. You can find 67 towns. Different problems exist in Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, and Delaware County compared to western areas.

Regarding the use of harm prevention tools, Stollsteimer says:

“Our police had to learn how to use naloxone to save someone’s life.” Those things have been done. We need to do the same thing with harm reduction, but it needs to be something that everyone in the community is okay with. Therefore, I believe that syringe swaps are very different from other harm reduction ideas that are available. The people should have a say in these matters, I think.

About treatment-centered routes, Bradford-Grey says:

Philadelphia Forum Highlights Opioids and Gun Violence in Pa. Attorney General Race (2)

That being said, we need better models of how to treat people so that we don’t let them keep living in ways that hurt themselves, their neighborhoods, our healthcare systems, and many other things. It’s not enough to just exchange needles to help people who are addicted without having a plan that’s set up to allow for real treatment.

Solomon on easy access to services and where they are located:

“Nine times out of ten, the people who support these programs live in the wealthiest suburbs or the city of Philadelphia. They want to bring these “needle change” programs to neighborhoods like mine in Northeast Philadelphia.” If mental health and addiction treatment is to be a community-based, city-wide, and Commonwealth-based answer, then everyone who lives in our city and Commonwealth needs to take responsibility for it.

The Law on Guns and Gun Crime

Gun violence is higher in places like Philadelphia, where 1,665 people were shot in 2023, according to figures from the city. A total of 373 people died.

Solomon, on putting money into working together:

“A partnership between the attorney general and the local district attorneys to work on gun violence is very common in other states.” It breaks down walls between agencies and works with local, state, federal, and U.S. attorneys to focus on and target the few blocks where gun crime is most common. We need everyone in the Commonwealth to support that.”

Accept this deal to cut down on the number of guns in public:

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“The most important thing, in my opinion, is how to keep guns under control. Are assault guns supposed to be off the streets? That is important. Guns in schools… A lot of the time, an AK-47 or another attack weapon is carried. There is a long history of shooting and sportsman’s firearm permits in Pennsylvania. But we can’t have those guns, and we need to find a way to ban assault weapons again.

Regarding the growth of “focused deterrence” schemes, Stollsteimer said:

“Only 1% of people shoot 75% to 80% of the time.” We were able to successfully bring this program to many neighborhoods in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. It gave people a way out and said, “We’ll help you get out of this life if you let us, but we’ll stop you if you make us.”

Regarding making it harder to get “black market” and “ghost” guns, Bradford-Grey said:

“I’m sure that the kids I worked with who had guns didn’t buy them in a store.” It’s important to go after the black market where they got them. On top of that, we need to close the loop on ghost guns. That is the desired gun. Getting an undetectable gun is easy when you want to do something illegal. People can ship gun parts all over the country, especially in the Commonwealth, without getting caught.

After this month’s primary votes on April 23, there will be fewer candidates for the Attorney General position. It’s election day, November 5.

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