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Secretary of Corrections

With nearly 30 years of experience in the field, John Wetzel is widely recognized as one of the thought leaders and influential voices of corrections today. His career spans over 22 years in county corrections culminating in a position of Warden of Franklin County Jail where he oversaw a 20% population reduction during his tenure.  

In January 2011, Governor Tom Corbett first appointed John Wetzel as Secretary of Corrections for the PA DOC. He was then reappointed Secretary of Corrections by Governor Tom Wolf in January 2015 and again in January 2019.  

During his tenure as Secretary, not only did the Department of Corrections experience the end of a 24-year average growth of 1500 inmates per year, but also the first population reduction in PA in over 4 decades, with a total reduction thus far of over 4200 inmates.  Secretary Wetzel has guided the Department in restructuring Community Corrections, the mental health systems and implementing security enhancements while at the same time, significantly reducing spending.  

Secretary Wetzel served as Chair of the Council of State Government’s Justice Center’s Executive Board of which he is now a member.  He is currently the President of the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) and a member of Harvard’s Executive Session on Community Corrections. 

On the federal level, Secretary Wetzel was chosen by the Obama Administration to be the corrections expert on the Charles Colson Task Force – created by Congress to examine and assess the Federal Bureau of Prisons and develop data driven solutions and recommendations for improvement.  More recently, he was named by the Trump Administration to the Independent Review Committee as part of the federal First Step Act.  

He is graduate of Bloomsburg University, and recipient of Honorary Doctorate degrees from both Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Chestnut Hill College.

Updated May 2019