Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment. Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.
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Host: Scott LaMar
What to look for on Radio Smart Talk Friday, August 16, 2013:
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this week that “incarceration rates at the federal, state and local levels have reached percentages that are both ineffective and unsustainable.” Holder then went on to introduce new measures in which The Department of Justice will require prosecutors to evade federal sentencing rules by not documenting the amount of drugs found on non-violent dealers.
Holder's action is part of an effort to reduce the nation's prison population that has grown substantially since President Richard Nixon declared a "War on Drugs" in the 1970s and elected officials enacted get tough on crime laws in the '80s and '90s. Most of those laws included minimum sentences and sentencing guidelines that often left judges without discretion when they penalized someone convicted of a crime.
Many of the sentencing rules were directed at those convicted of drug offenses. It led to prison overcrowding and a question of whether the tougher sentences actually worked to reduce drug use and crime.
Pennsylvania has been one of the nation's leading advocates for alternatives to prison under the direction of Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel. Secretary Wetzel appears on Friday's Radio Smart Talk to discuss the attorney general's plans and what reforms can be made.
Secretary John Wetzel
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