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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

Smart Talk: Training needed for public defenders?: A survivor of the Rwandan genocide

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Apr 2, 2014 3:04 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, April 3, 2014:

Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that doesn't provide funding to pay for training public defenders. 

lawyers in court room 300 x 170.jpg

A proposal is before the legislature that would set aside $1 million for that purpose. 

At a time when Pennsylvania could have a sizable budget deficit at the end of the fiscal year in June, some may ask "how can we afford it?"

Supporters of the proposal counter that it would save taxpayer money in the long run and point out how often criminal defendants appeal or appeals are upheld because the accused had an ineffective counsel or their attorney made mistakes. 

Lisette McCormick, Executive Director of the Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness appears on Smart Talk to explain.

Also appearing on the show is Dr. Joseph Sebarenzi, who survived the Rwandan Genocide.

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Rwandan Genocide Memorial

During a three month period in 1994, between 500,000 and one million Rwandans were killed in tribal warfare.  Most of Dr. Sebarenzi's family didn't survive.

Dr. Sebarenzi will speak Thursday night at Elizabethtown College before the film "Sometimes in April," commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.

The event is being held in the Ebenshade Gibble Auditorium at 6 p.m. For more information, visit 

Dr. Sebaranzi.jpg

Dr. Joseph Sebarenzi

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-04-03 08:46

    Harry Emails:

    Shouldn’t the Public Defender Association of Pennsylvania with some state funded training dollars do this so we don't have to create a new state entity? The legislation establishes a whole new organization. Why could not the same function be served by the statutorily created and existing Public Defender Association of Pennsylvania so long as it was better funded through grants and public support as the Pennsylvania District Attorney Institute (which has a $ 1 ¼ million budget and the District Attorney Association which has dues authorized by statute paid by the counties and its members 10x the amount of the Public Defender Associationof Pennsylvania?)

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