On Oct. 23, 2020, Executive Deputy Secretary George Little participated in a panel discussion about criminal justice reform that was hosted by the NAACP. During the Zoom event, which was part of the PA NAACP annual convention, presenters highlighted several criminal justice reform initiatives undertaken by their offices or agencies and discussed why those initiatives matter and how they are working out.
Moderated by Khadija T. Diggs, Esq., a board member of the PA Parole Board, Little was joined by Lisa Freeland, chief of the Federal Defenders Office for the Western District of PA; Robert Listenbee, first assistant for the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office; Keir Bradford-Grey, chief of the Philadelphia Defenders Association; and PA Superior Court Judge Carolyn Nichols. A brief appearance was made by PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
Little talked about the DOC's population decrease of 10,000. He also talked about how the DOC is working to help individuals with the impact of trauma experienced both by the inmate and by their families in the community. He mentioned First Step, which is an initiative that takes a portion of money on large contract and provides funding for people and communities with needs. He talked about the DOC's Safe Streets initiative and how the agency is partnering with various cities across the commonwealth. He also spoke about the intersectional relationship created by the Memorandum of Understanding between the DOC and the Parole Board and the agency's focus on reentry. With respect to field agents, Little highlighted how the DOC created reentry programs at every state prison. He said treatment interventions and GPS has helped to reduce technical parole violations. Little also spoke about actions being taken to protect staff and inmates from COVID-19.
The panel discussion can be viewed on Facebook.