The Wisconsin state Senate has approved Jon Litscher’s appointment as corrections secretary. Litscher takes over an agency which Democrats say is in crisis.
“The number of violent assaults on officers has gone up. The number of violent assaults inmate-on-inmate has gone up,” Senator Jon Erpebach (D-Middleton) said. “We have a crisis in corrections right now, and hopefully the secretary will be able to come up with some new ideas to handle that.”
Litscher replaces Ed Wall, who resigned last month amid an investigation into claims of abuse at the state’s Lincoln Hills youth facility.
State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) believes Litscher has the support of rank-and-file staff in the state’s prisons. “They do believe change is possible with this new head. But he has to have the power to make a difference in corrections, because right now it is a crisis situation.”
Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) said she was encouraged by her face-to-face meetings with Litscher. Litscher headed corrections once before from 1999 to 2003 — and Taylor noted that the agency was sued in 2001 over allegations of abuse at the state’s Boscobel Supermax prison. “I’m going to trust, but I’m going to be constantly verifying along the way,” Taylor said. “His record isn’t one hundred percent, but I believe he’s learned something from that.”