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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, September 4, 2018:

Last week, Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections took an unprecedented step by locking down the 25 correctional facilities in the state prison system after a rash of illnesses among some prison employees. Administrators believe the employees may have been exposed to synthetic drugs and that the lockdown is precautionary.

Pennsylvania is not the only state grappling with illnesses related to unknown substances.  

The lockdown came the same day 29 people at an Ohio prison were treated for accidental drug exposure, and the same week five inmates in Arkansas died of suspected overdoses. In every case, officials are not able to say which drugs were involved, or how they got into the prisons.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton said that while staff exposure is not unusual, the numbers are climbing. Since the beginning of August 6th, 29 employees developed symptoms in 13 separate incidents, at nine different prisons.

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel appears on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to explain the situation. For more information on the lockdown, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections website.

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John Wetzel / Photo from news blog

Also on Smart Talk, September is Hunger Action Month. A national nonprofit organization started Hunger Action Month more than 10 years ago to encourage community involvement in the fight against hunger. Now every September, food banks across the nation join the effort to raise awareness of the problem and encourage volunteers to get involved.

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The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is leading the effort in our area, hoping to create a lasting impact and feed Americans in need. Volunteers are encouraged to join the movement by making donations or volunteering their time during the month of September. The yearly recognition is intended to be more than a temporary effort and to remind Americans that hungry families need their help all year.

Joining us on Smart Talk to talk about the initiative are Joe Arthur, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Executive Director, and food bank volunteer Paul Smith.


Paul Smith and Joe Arthur