Program that helps young gun shot victims counting on state funds

    While Pennsylvania lawmakers are haggling over how to handle the state’s projected $3.2 billion budget shortfall, supporters of a one-of-a-kind pilot program are fighting to keep their piece of the state pie.

    While Pennsylvania lawmakers are haggling over how to handle the state’s projected $3.2 billion budget shortfall, supporters of a one-of-a-kind pilot program are fighting to keep their piece of the state pie.

    Advocates for PIRIS  – the Pennsylvania Injury Reporting and Intervention System  – are gathering Wednesday in Harrisburg to call on lawmakers not to cut the program from the state budget.

    Since it began four years ago, the PIRIS program has counted on about a million dollars in state funding each year.

    Kerri Barthel runs the program.  She says the money helps 15 to 24 year old gun-shot victims while they’re still in the hospital:

    Listen:

    [audio:090616lfpiris.mp3]

    Barthel: There’s so many immediate needs when a person is shot.  Whether it’s health insurance, getting connected to the detective, and maybe it’s helping them figure out their employments, or helping them emotional deal with what just transpired – that they were almost killed.  We just try to help with preventing retaliation and reoccurring violence.

    Barthel says without the program, the young violence victims and their families will have to find services on their own.

    She says she hopes state funding will continue, but the group has also applied for federal stimulus money to keep the program running.

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