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 Smart Talk Tuesday, January 3, 2017:
The first Smart Talk of 2017 examines incarceration -- what prisons and sentences will look like in the future and a discussion of one of the most notorious prison riots in history.
Pennsylvania's Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel is considered one of the nation's foremost pioneers in changing how America incarcerates law breakers. It wasn't very long ago that most of society had an attitude of "lock 'em up and throw away the key." It happened during in response to high crime rates that includes a rise in violent crime. The mandatory sentences that legislators enacted resulted in the largest prison population ever at one point, new prison construction and hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to house inmates.
What Wetzel and others have been working toward is finding alternatives to harsh prison sentences, especially for non-violent criminals. That includes dealing with inmates who have substance abuse problems, are mentally ill and who need support to get on their feet once they are released.
John Wetzel appears on Tuesday's Smart Talk.
John E. Wetzel, Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections
The prison riot at New York state's Attica prison in 1971 is considered one of the nation's worst. Thirty-nine men, including eight hostages, were killed when state police stormed the prison to retake it from inmates. It's taken 45 years but Heather Ann Thompson has written the definitive account of what happened at Attica in her book Blood in the Water.
Heather Ann Thompson
She joins us on Smart Talk.
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