East Halls, Home of the Pennsylvania Government

Ah, East Halls. Home to small dorm rooms, new experiences, drunk freshmen, and…the Pennsylvania Government?

Yes, you read that right. A government agency, the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, has its office stationed in the basement of Brumbaugh Hall.

So, why is the office of a state agency housed in the basement of a hall where drunk freshmen stumble home every weekend?

Well, the committee was created with the “primary purpose of creating a consistent and rational statewide sentencing policy that would increase sentencing severity for serious crimes and promote fairer and more uniform sentencing practices.” Basically, its job is to ensure that Pennsylvania is fair and consistent with its sentencing. The committee was brought to Penn State by current faculty member John Kramer back in 1982. He has been the executive director since 1979.

Kramer brought that commission to Penn State because he believes that “there are many benefits for both the University and the Commission.”

“For one, it connects the university to the policy arena directly so that the research on sentencing done here can have a pipeline to policy,” Kramer said. He also mentioned, “It supports graduate students and provides a strong avenue for our graduate students to conduct research on sentencing.”

The current Executive Director and Penn State professor Mark Bergstrom also believes that the commission being on campus is a “win-win” situation.

“The University gets research and products for students,” added Bergstrom, “and in place the commission gets really smart people to help with sentencing projects.”

So, next time you hear of a sentence being passed down in the state, just know that people working in the basement of an East dorm had something to do with its guidelines. Weird.

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