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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: Criminal justice -- pardons; Former U.S. Attorney

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Nov 16, 2016 3:48 AM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, November 16,2016:

The state Board of Pardons is offering redemption to Pennsylvanians who have broken the law and have turned their lives around.  As part of a program called "Pathways to Pardons" people with criminal records can get a pardon to move forward with their lives, allowing them better access to jobs, housing, the right to military service and the restoration of their voting rights.

Nearly five million Americans are involved in some portion of the criminal justice system - incarcerated, on probation or on parole.  Seventy percent are for non-violent drug offenses or property crimes.  The economic impact to these individuals and their communities can be devastating when work becomes limited due to prior convictions.

"People make mistakes when they're young and then they get a criminal record and it affects the rest of their life.  It's in everybody's interest to help these folks get their record cleaned up," said Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack, speaking to a gathering outside Pittsburgh.  Stack has been promoting "Pathways to Pardons" in an effort to reduce the convicted status of Pennsylvanians who have served their time, successfully attended recovery programs and met their financial obligations.

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Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack

He joins us on Smart Talk to discuss this program, how it will benefit all Pennsylvanians and how it could serve as a model for justice reform nationwide.

Also, in 2010, President Obama nominated Peter Smith to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. 

Smith's public service in the state goes back 45 years when he started as an Assistant District Attorney working under Philadelphia's then-DA, Arlen Specter.  Since then he prosecuted public corruption and fraud as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, served as Pennsylvania's first Inspector General where he worked to maintain governmental integrity and spent three years as the deputy chief of the Environmental Crimes Section at the Justice Department.

As a U.S. Attorney in Pennsylvania, his office prosecuted Lackawanna County's "Kids for Cash" case, horse doping cases at Penn National Race course and routine fraud and organized crime cases throughout the state.

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Peter Smith, Retired United States Attorney

Peter Smith retired from the post in October.  He appears on Smart Talk to discuss his career serving the Commonwealth and share some court room stories from his time as a U.S. Attorney.

EMAILS

On "Pathways to Pardons"

It seems slightly unfair when the justice system in some states continues to incarcerate over marijuana offenses while other states have legalized marijuana. Multiples states in the recent election voted to approve recreational or medicinal marijuana. Should people with marijuana offenses start being treated more lightly given this new reality and is pathways to pardons helping them?   - Jesse

 

The father of my kids cannot get a job due to his criminal background. He got a computer science degree and, if law's had not changed, he would be off of the megans law list and working.

The crime that got him on the megans law list was possession of a small amount that he pled guilty to get probation.  The charges occurred more than 10 years ago.

 He cannot get out in the community to do anything really because of being on the list, so he has not done that much good outside of finishing his degree and staying home with my kids while they were not in school.

 If he presented his case as that, and did not try to glorify himself in other ways (which he has a penchant to do) what do you think his chances are?     - anon

 

Are individuals convicted of a DUI eligible for a pardon? Are alcohol related crimes considered as well as drug related crimes? What are some other examples of crimes, not drug related offenses, that would be eligible for pardon?   - Nicole

 

If a crime took place in another state can the person who now lives in PA go through Pathway to Pardons?   - Barb

 

 

 

 

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