by aklingensmith | April 06, 2023

This year’s Pennsylvania Leadership Conference was the biggest yet, with over 900 participants and over fiver dozen media outlets covering the event.  As a sponsor, we couldn’t be more thrilled at the growth and influence of this program. Americans for Prosperity hosted our Advisory Board member and Fox News host Guy Benson for a mainstage discussion on what center-right media faces in the marketplace of ideas to the state of the union and what’s happening in Washington. Guy talked about what we’ve all endured over the past few years:  a global pandemic, massive unemployment caused by business closures, rapid inflation and also increasing violent crime.  The continued news reel out of Philadelphia has overwhelmed our media with story after story about the rise of violent crime.  This led to our invitation for Ja’Ron Smith, President Trump’s highest and longest ranking African-American advisor, to participate in a mainstage panel discussion at PLC.  He was instrumental in passing the criminal justice reform bill The First Step Act that freed thousands of reformed individuals, reuniting them with their families and communities.  Ja’Ron served Congressmen Scalise and Jordan, along with Senator Tim Scott and Vice President Mike Pence throughout his time on the Hill.  Most recently, Ja’Ron launched a public safety coalition to reduce violent crime. The principles of this initiative work to counter the Defund the Police movement and offer proven solutions to the current failing criminal justice system.  As a partner of the coalition to reduce violent crime, AFP wanted to emphasize why our General Assembly and cities across PA need to prioritize criminal justice.

The coalition to reduce violent crime is advocating for four basic and commonsense principles:

  1. We must properly fund law enforcement.
  2. Our laws must refocus police on preventing and solving serious crimes.
  3. Cities should adopt evidence-based policies that reduce violent crime.
  4. States should continue to adopt smart on crime policies.

Ensuring law enforcement succeeds, collaboration in cities and states driving smart on crime policies that reduce incarceration and recidivism-reducing programming is the key recipe for the limited public safety resources we have being focused on those individuals who pose the highest risk.  In PA, we’re working on legislation that would address probation reform at a comprehensive level, restoring incentive-driven behavior for those looking to reduce their supervision terms.  At a city level, Harrisburg is acting. In May 2022, the Harrisburg City Council approved plans to begin a Group Violence Intervention Initiative.  It’s a strategy that uses the “carrot and stick” approach known as focused deterrence.  Made famous in the mid-90s by Boston’s Operation Ceasefire, it brings law enforcement and the community together to provide a balanced approach to combatting violent crime and increasing prosperity within the community.  This prevention strategy combined with Harrisburg’s higher than average rate of solving homicides will ensure the city continues its decades long crime rate decline.

There are opportunities policymakers at the federal, state and local level can take today to better protect Pennsylvanians and honor the sacrifice of our brave members of law enforcement.  Please take 60 seconds to sign our letter entitled “Set up Pennsylvanians for Success After Supervision” at, selecting “Take Action” and visting our Action Center.  That letter will go directly to the inboxes of leaders in Harrisburg that determine what goes on the calendar for a vote both in committee and before the full floor.  I’m Ashley Klingensmith, State Director with Americans for Prosperity-PA.  You can connect with us on Facebook by searching @PAAFP and can follow us on Twitter by searching @AFPPennsylvania.

Ashley S. Klingensmith | State Director | Americans for Prosperity – PA

m: 412.915.1551 | e: [email protected] | @AFPPennsylvania