Bustin’ Walls – Episode 1: Meet PA’s Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm

This is a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections podcast where listeners get a real look inside the field of corrections with one of the top DOCs in the nation.

In this episode, DOC Secretary John Wetzel, the host of “Bustin’ Walls,” interviews Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm about her background and what led her to become the state’s top victim advocate.

The two also discuss the variety of programs and services available through her office. Learn more by visiting OVA’s website at www.ova.pa.gov

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections John E. Wetzel and DOC Director of Planning, Research and Statistics Dr. Bret Bucklen make the case against legislation restoring the mandatory minimum sentencing requirement. They argue the data do not support minimum sentences reducing or deterring crime. In fact, locking up those who commit non-violent crimes not only costs taxpayers – as much $85 million a year – it doesn’t necessarily lead to better outcomes for the individual when they are released.

Crime rates are lower today than at any time since 1970 and that includes reports released following the 2015 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that found mandatory minimums unconstitutional.

Mandatory minimums take discretion away from judges and give it to prosecutors. The current sentencing guidelines give latitude to judges to impose harsher sentences on those who deserve them. The DOC is a research-based, data-driven organization. There is no research that suggests the absence of mandatory minimums impact public safety. In fact, research suggests that low-level, non–violent offenders are more likely to go on to commit crimes when they are released which will lead to more victims. The existing structure allows victims to provide input at sentencing and parole.