State corrections secretary focused on outcomes

Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Aug 18, 2013 3:42 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- The head of the state's Corrections Department is backing the federal Sentencing Commission's call to make changes to mandatory minimum prison sentences.

The body voted on its priority list just days after the US Attorney General announced a policy that seeks to spend crime-fighting dollars more effectively.

Pennsylvania's Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel says he believes it's the first step toward improving outcomes in the justice system.

"Attorney General [Eric] Holder took the first couple of steps in a marathon," Wetzel said on witf's Radio Smart Talk. "So, hey, he's started -- he's able to run the marathon -- but they have a long way to go."

Wetzel has been implementing a similar initiative in the commonwealth. It's designed to keep low-level offenders out of state prisons, and reinvest the cost savings in law enforcement programs that can prevent violent crime.

Wetzel says Pennsylvania is slowly starting to see better outcomes in its prison system, where nearly 63 percent of inmates are either re-incarcerated or rearrested within three years of their release.

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