Mar. 11—How to recruit and retain law enforcement officers, marijuana decriminalization, wrongful convictions and probation reform will be among the subjects explored by a panel during the upcoming Key Issues in Criminal Justice for a Better Future forum on March 21.
The event, hosted by the political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, will take place at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s John P. Murtha Center for Public Service and National Competitiveness, beginning with a dinner mixer at 5 pm
“We’re basically looking at a few issues where we think that the system could be improved,” said the event’s moderator, Ross Kleinstuber, a Pitt-Johnstown criminal justice professor. “We think this will be beneficial to the community because we’re taxpayers, but we’re also potential victims of crime, and so we can do things that improve the system that make it either more efficient or better at stopping crime.”
“We think that can help prevent future victimizations, but it can also sort of reduce costs if we prevent crime with trials, sentencing and incarceration.”
Michael Hruska, chairman of the Allegheny Highlands Libertarian Party chapter, said the goal is to “create good community conversations that matter.”
“We thought that with the emergence in understanding and awareness of criminal justice, we thought it would be a great opportunity to engage with the University of Pittsburgh faculty, as well as the poli-sci groups at Pitt-Johnstown and all of the parties to talk about important subjects in criminal justice,” Hruska said.
The panel is scheduled to include Ryan Black (Americans for Prosperity regional vice president), Christi Smith (senior fellow for criminal justice and civil liberties with the R Street Institute), state Rep. Jim Rigby, R-Ferndale (a former police chief), Rob Cowburn (Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania chairman) and state Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr., R-Richland (a former assistant district attorney in Cambria County).
“I think it’s naive to believe any one of us has figured out the solution on our own,” Kleinstuber said. “I think we get the best possible solutions when we hear a diversity of viewpoints and kind of evaluate those different perspectives. You want to have the marketplace of ideas as it’s called sometimes. We can build on each other.
“We can hear different perspectives and kind of reach our own conclusions, rather than just having one perspective.”
RSVPs are required by Tuesday.
The registration form is available at americansforprosperity.actcentr.com under “Attend Events.”