Incarceration

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

A Pennsylvania woman gave birth in a sports bar bathroom and left the baby there, where it soon died. Now the woman is sentenced to spend the rest of her life in prison.

Keith Srakocic / AP

The boundaries of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts are still in contention this week as GOP leaders file suit to block a map enforced by the state Supreme Court. Three Republican-appointed federal judges on Friday agreed to hear the case.

Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is looking for ways to reduce the recidivism rate among formerly incarcerated individuals in the commonwealth.

“When you have two out of every three prisoners recidivate, meaning they commit crimes once they’re released from prison and end up back in prison, I think it tells you we need a much smarter approach when dealing with these returning citizens,” Shapiro said.

Matt Rourke / AP

On the heels of a survey finding Pennsylvanians support efforts to reform the state justice system, one lawmaker said he plans to introduce what he called “clean slate” legislation.

A Song Within The Storm: How Motherhood And Addiction Collide

Feb 16, 2017
Maranie Staab / PublicSource

Sarah Womack stands in the center of her daughter’s pink room and explains why she had to take the frame off the bed and leave the mattress on the floor. After the Office of Children, Youth and Families inspected her home, the agency claimed that a bed with a frame would make a room seem too much like a bedroom and a bedroom would make things “too confusing” for Sarah’s daughter, Lola. The mattress on the floor makes Lola’s room a playroom instead.

Lola lives with her great aunt and uncle. That is her home. Not with Sarah. Not yet.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

When someone is incarcerated, they family members – especially children – can be forgotten, but Elizabeth Mansley works hard to remember them. 

Last year, Mansley, a Mt. Aloysius College associate professor of criminology, and her students launched The Storybook Project.

“The idea actually came from my daughter,” Mansley said.

Simon Brass / flickr

In Allegheny County, eight people have been exonerated since 1990, sharing more than 125 years wrongfully imprisoned.  

Liz DeLosa, managing attorney of the new Pittsburgh chapter of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, said most people aren’t aware of how the exonerated are treated in this state.

J. Chan / flickr

Pennsylvania’s incarceration rates are the highest of any northeastern state.  Beginning in the 1980's with the advent of the “War on Drugs,” Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union director Reggie Shuford said the commonwealth has a history of mass jailing. He told Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer about an upcoming ACLU roundtable discussion at the August Wilson Center addressing the incarceration debate.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

In the eight months without a state budget, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel is calling for service providers to back Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed funding of early education.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has announced a program aimed at keeping people serving short sentences in county jails instead of state prisons.

Simon Brass / flickr

Children of incarcerated parents face social, emotional and academic difficulties at a far higher rate than their peers.  These kids are at increased risk for negative behavior and potential future criminal activity.  One group, Amachi Pittsburgh, is working to stop the cycle of incarceration and provide opportunity for children. 

Halfway houses and boot camps receive a portion of their funding from the state, but an audit of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections shows that funding levels have nothing to do with effectiveness.

The overall recidivism rate in Pennsylvania is about 43 percent, but 48 percent of people who graduated from Quehanna Boot Camp in Karthaus PA between January 2010 and June 2011 returned to jail by October 2013. The boot camp costs about $43,000 per inmate per year.