Montgomery and Bucks County State Senator Stewart Greenleaf says attitudes about inmates need to change. He says the state prison system has been more about punishment and needs to focus more on rehabilitation.
“Prison population increased from 1980 to the present time. 522-percent increase on our inmate population. During that period of time you expect that violent crime would just plummet, it didn’t, it went up.”
The State now houses more than 50-thousand prisoners and the Corrections Department has a budget over 1.7-billion dollars. Greenleaf is pushing a bill that would give judges more discretion to keep the non-violent criminals out of the system. The new Secretary of Corrections in Pennsylvania, John Wetzel supports the change.
“We talk a lot about recidivism and those things, but at the end of the day, I think what the general public wants to know, what I want to know as a member of the public is when someone gets out the back end of one of our prisons, are they more likely or less likely to commit a new crime. First off, we don’t anything to offer them an opportunity to make a meaningful change in their life or addressing treatment needs, then we’re wasting an opportunity, But when we over-incarcerate and we put them in one of our prisons, they come out the back end, I can’t look you in the eye today and say they’re less likely.”
Wetzel and Greenleaf discussed prison reform on Tuesday’s edition of Comment Please by Univest with Darryl Berger