Smart Talk: Reviewing Pennsylvania’s Criminal Justice System


By Scott LaMar

There were about 50,000 people incarcerated or serving other alternative sentences in Pennsylvania last year.  That’s the smallest number since 2009.  In fact, the prison population fell by 842 inmates in 2015.  The Wolf Administration attributed the drop to reforms made in 2012.

While a declining prison population is a step in the right direction, Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system faces other challenges like too many mentally ill people who are in jail rather than getting treatment or a small group of criminals who continue to commit crimes.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center has worked with 24 other states to find ways to reduce corrections spending, lower recidivism and redirect those funds to proven public safety strategies.  The Justice Center is now reviewing Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system.

Appearing on Friday’s Smart Talk to discuss what works and what doesn’t are Marc Pelka, Deputy Director of State Initiatives for the Council of State Governments Justice Center and Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Also, three antique guns were stolen from the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg last Sunday morning. The thief got into the building through a broken window and stole the guns from a controversial exhibit sponsored by the National Rifle Association.

The burglary has prompted many questions – some we hope to get answered Friday by Gene Barr, the Vice Chair of the Board of the National Civil War Museum.

Also, WITF’s Capitol Bureau Chief Mary Wilson is on the show with Capitol-Week-in-Review highlighted by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announcing she won’t seek re-election.