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Prison Reform in the Pennsylvania Legislature

When I began my career in the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1976, America's drug culture, and public awareness of drug abuse, had been on the rise for two decades. By the 1980s, America's largest urban areas were experiencing a narcotics epidemic, particularly relating to the widespread use of crack cocaine and heroin. Faced with the challenge of controlling this problem, legislators could see only one logical course of action: raise penalties to repress the increasing crime. Longer—and more mandatory—sentences passed state legislatures by wide margins, and everyone confidently waited for a corresponding reduction in drug crime.