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Hosted by: Scott LaMar



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Hosted by: Matt Paul and Mary Wilson



witf introduces 'Smart Talk Friday' radio program

RST: PA corrections chief wants alternatives to jail for non-violent offenders

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Aug 16, 2013 3:58 AM

What to look for on Radio Smart Talk Friday, August 16, 2013:

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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.

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Secretary John Wetzel

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Comments: 1

  • DLS_York_Co img 2013-08-16 16:46

    My husband was physically assaulted last fall. My husband did not fight back and it was totally unexpected. He was punched,knocked into a concrete wall, and thrown to the ground and the assailant sat on top of him and pummelled him. There were eyewitnesses who assisted my husband, or it could have been even worse. The defendant threatened to kill him and has threatened other people who assisted my husband.
    My husband had three broken bones and an injury which required surgery. He is permanently disabled from the assault and will not be able to work at a job like he had before the assault. I used nearly all my vacation time to care for my husband. Now I'm the primary "breadwinner."
    The defendant plead guilty to "simple assault," and his sentence was probation, evaluations, D&A counseling and restitution for medical bills. I think prison would have been a poor choice as this man would be easily influenced in a negative way, but I wish he would have to go through more than just this minor sentence. We also had to purchase some new adaptive furniture because of his injuries and this was denied reimbursement, even though it was vital to have this for him to be independent while recuperating from his injuries.
    It seems unfair that the victim and his family go through so much anguish, and the attacker gets a slap on the wrist. I just hope it rehabilitates the defendant, and he realizes how his actions have a permanent negative impact on my husband and our entire family. We have adapted, but we have to forge a new path from what we were anticipating for our lives.

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