Political leaders across the nation should take note of Pennsylvania’s Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, a straight talker who is willing to tell it like it is.
Responding to legislators concerned about increased numbers of Pensylvania prisoners, the following is a summary of his testimony before the House Appropriations Committee on February 12, is reported in the Patriot News (he best speaks for himself).
“You say you want change, but you keep passing the same bills,” Wetzel told the lawmakers.
Since adopting the prison reform legislation aimed at reducing the prison population, he said, the House has passed no fewer than 23 bills that will likely increase it – either through the creation of new criminal offenses, or lengthening the sentences for existing crimes. No one bill could break the reform, but the small impact of multiple bills combine to a formidable threat. Wetzel called it “death by a thousand paper cuts.”
” Wetzel said every budget season he goes to the Capitol to explain corrections policy to lawmakers, “and then they forget about it until the next year.” Correctional Policy, Wetzel said, should have two goals: the response should be equal to the crime and the response should yield results; in other words, the offender should be less likely to commit another crime when he exits the criminal justice system”
. “You can’t say that about some of our current laws and corrections policies,” said Wetzel. He said, “No less than 23 bills have passed the House, every one of which has the potential to increase prison populations,” but legislators have done little to counteract the effect of those legislative efforts through legislation aimed at reducing crime and prolonged incarceration.”
I think we should to keep an eye out for further comments from Corrections Secretary Wetzel.