Smart Talk

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.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Counties push for inmate reforms

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Sep 6, 2016 3:06 PM

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State and federal prisons get a lot of attention but what about county jails and prisons?  It can cost up to $40,000 a year to house an inmate in a county lock-up.  That makes the jail one of the biggest expenses for counties.

A task force appointed by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania found that nearly two-thirds of inmates at county jails have substance abuse issues, 10 to 30% suffer from a mental illness and 14% have a serious mental illness.  Considering county jails house more individuals with mental illness than psychiatric hospitals, it raises the question of whether keeping people behind bars is the right way to go in the long run.

The report's conclusion was it isn't and made a number of recommendations to control the need for incarceration, expand training and education to staff and law enforcement and provide effective supports and services to inmates.

Counties are calling for engagement with communities, lawmakers, citizens and judges to improve the situation.

County jails and their inmates and reaching better outcomes are the topics of Tuesday's Smart Talk.

Our guests are CCAP Deputy Director Brinda Carroll Penyak, and Ed Michalik, administrator of Berks County's Office of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.

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County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania Deputy Director Brinda Carroll Penyak and Ed Michalik, administrator of Berks County's Office of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities

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