PA’s Wetzel: Don’t Lock People Up Three Decades “Because We’re Mad At Them”


Pennsylvania Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, asked by NPR for his views on sentencing reform, says, “We really need to look at who needs to be incarcerated in a federal prison to ensure public safety. We also have to understand what drove the crime in the first place … We’ve seen good success around drug courts and mental health courts, and, here in Pennsylvania, we have veterans courts. We need to plug individuals in with the focus on restoring them as full citizens.”

Wetzel also was asked whether he believes that putting more people in prison breeds more criminals. He said, “I think the data would support that. And that’s why these decisions at who needs to be incarcerated is so important. I mean, let’s be honest, there’s some things that you do that have such a negative impact on the community or on individuals in the community, it creates victims. That part of your path needs to go through a prison, right? But we really need to make good decisions up front. So that requires us to, first of all, have the response be equal to the crime itself. There’s another path that we can put people on when they commit a crime that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to serve three decades in a state prison because we’re mad at them.”

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