Crime tops concerns at Capuano's town meeting

Desperate from having lived through Boston's bloodiest year in a decade, residents of Bowdoin-Geneva repeatedly asked Eighth District Congressman Michael Capuano for his input on how the fight against gun violence on their streets could be won. The conversation took place at a community forum held by Capuano at the Bowdoin Street Health Center on Saturday afternoon. The discussion touched on a wide range of national and international issues, but violent crime on Boston's streets was a frequent topic for the 20 or so attendees.

Capuano suggested one solution might be increased funding for prisoner rehabilitation.

"Our criminal justice system has walked away from the concept of rehabilitation," he said.

Capuano also pointed to a bill he sponsored that would fund programs to protect young witnesses to violent crime and their families called the Young Witness Protection Act. But when pressed on the topic of decreasing the number of guns on Boston's streets through national legislation, Capuano stated that the gun lobby was too strong across the country to pass meaningful legislation.

Despite this, Capuano seemed confident that Boston would succeed in lowering its violent crime rate, just as it had in the late 1990s. He said that street violence is cyclical, and that elected officials at the city and state level appear focussed on addressing the issue.

Another issue discussed at the forum that's having a direct effect on Capuano's constituents was the recently enacted Medicare Part D. The program seeks to extend prescription drug coverage to the nation's seniors, but ultimately could bleed the life from the program, Capuano said. Seniors across the country are confused by the program, he said, and when the House went back into session this week, he expected that there would already be discussion about how to correct some of the program's already apparent problems.