Chaka Fattah’s Republican Challenger Robert Allen Mansfield Says Nonviolent Offenders Should Go to Boot Camp Instead of Prison
There’s been a lot of talk about prison reform lately. Privatizing it, cutting it, expanding it, you name it. Robert Allen Mansfield, the Republican candidate who is facing incumbent Chaka Fattah in the 2nd District, has a different idea: Change the admissions rules, then change the prisoners—perhaps permanently.
Mansfield, who previously ran for U.S. Senate in the early spring before dropping out at the urging of the state party to take a shot at the 2nd District, says he thinks nonviolent offenders shouldn’t be locked up in the same prisons as violent ones.
“A lot of these guys who are going into prison, they’re going into prison for petty drug possession, petty distributing. I mean, [drug dealing] is wrong, but instead of giving him incarceration,” he says, “why don’t we expand the Pennsylvania National Guard?”
Mansfield, a former member of the state National Guard and an Iraq War vet, believes prisoners would be better served the way he has.
“Have those nonviolent offenders go to a mandatory one-year boot camp, run by the Pennsylvania National Guard,” he says. Not one to see things through “rose-colored glasses,” he notes many African-American kids in his North Philadelphia neighborhood who were never given the proper guidance or schools, were instead taught “how to rap,” and often find themselves locked up later in life. They, like him, could perhaps use some military-inspired straightening out.
“I’m a lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key kind of guy,” he explains over coffee in Center City on a recent afternoon. “If you kill someone, I’ve got a needle for you. And I’m pro-life … but in order to protect the sheep you have to sometimes put down the wolf.”