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State Prison Head To Retire, Walker Announces Replacement

State Department Of Corrections To See Third Leader In Three Years


The Walker administration announced Wednesday the head of the state Department of Corrections will retire next month, leaving a state prison system in flux with its third leader in three years.

Corrections secretary Jon Litscher will retire effective June 11, according to the governor’s office.

Litscher was appointed in 2016 to oversee the state prison system. He had previously served as Corrections secretary from 1999-2003.

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Litscher took on the role after the resignation of Secretary Ed Wall, who left the position as the federal government took charge of an investigation into inmate abuse and neglect at the state’s youth prisons, Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake.

Wisconsin has been sued by inmates who have been injured there. In March, it agreed to pay nearly $19 million to a former inmate who attempted to hang herself in her cell. Her lawsuit said guards failed to notice or prevent her actions.

Litscher has pushed for an expansion of the state’s prison system, citing overcrowding. He has also defended the use of solitary confinement with inmates under 18 years old.

The secretary is leaving the department as Wisconsin begins the process of overhauling its youth prison system. The Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake facilities are slated to close by 2021. They will be converted into an adult facility and several smaller youth prisons will be opened across the state.

Litscher will be replaced by Deputy Secretary Cathy Jess, who will be the first woman to hold the position.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with reporting from WPR at 1:30 p.m. on May 23, 2018.