PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP) announced the hiring of John E. Wetzel, a former three-term Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections, as a consultant. Wetzel, who brings more than three decades of experience in corrections, will evaluate PDP operations and provide recommendations according to best practices nationally.“In the past several months, I have traveled the country and am currently working with systems vexed with the same challenges faced by our own PDP,” said John E. Wetzel. “I’m looking forward to working with the leadership team in Philadelphia to help them make their prisons a healthier environment for those who work for and are housed inside the PDP and those who love them.”“Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, prisons across the nation have been confronted with deep challenges,” said PDP Commissioner Blanche Carney. “Secretary Wetzel has a remarkable track record of leading prisons at both local and state levels. His methodologies have safely and successfully reduced prison population, decreased recidivism, and implemented successful citizen reentry programs. We are looking forward to an impartial evaluation of our operations and excited that he will be working with the PDP.”Wetzel was nominated by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in 2010 and confirmed in 2011. He was subsequently renominated by Governor Tom Wolf in 2015 and served until he resigned in October of 2021 as the longest serving Secretary of Corrections in state history.During Wetzel’s time in office, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections saw the elimination of a 24-year average growth of 1,500 incarcerated people annually and marked the first prison population reduction in more than four decades. He also oversaw the restructuring of the community corrections and mental health systems, and a reengineering of internal processes to yield a more efficient system of program delivery.In 2007, Wetzel was appointed by former Governor Edward G. Rendell to serve on the State Board of Pardons as the Corrections Expert.Wetzel is currently the CEO of Phronema Justice Strategies, LLC. He is also the Founding Director of the Keystone Restituere Justice Center, a nonprofit focusing on Pennsylvania county criminal justice programs and national reform work, set to launch this year.