Mayor Parker introduces new prisons commissioner, who says he’s ready to fix jail system

The public service vet inherits an ailing city department facing a troubling vacancy rate and funding woes.

Cherelle Parker at a podium smiling and pointing to the audience

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker delivered her first budget address to council at City Hall on March 14, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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Michael Resnick has been named Philadelphia’s new prisons commissioner.

Mayor Cherelle Parker made the announcement Wednesday during a public event at City Hall.

Parker said Resnick, who is already known to City Council, was the choice to run the city’s corrections system and fix the system’s funding ills.

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“When you go downstairs to meet with members of the city council of Philadelphia,” Parker said, “they want very concrete plans about how you’re going to implement the dollars they are appropriating through their process.”

David Robinson, president of District Council 33, who represents the guards, is pleased with the decision because Resnick’s previous experience as acting prisons commissioner in Philly makes it possible.

“I know he’s the right person at the right time, his history says it,” Robinson said.

He went on to say Resnick’s call for hiring more guards and giving those currently in the system the respect they deserve is a good first step in resolving the system’s problems.

Resnick said he’s ready to get to work.

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“The two things we have to focus on are increasing our staff and decreasing the population,” he said. “There are a lot of strategies that go into doing both of those things and we’ll do them simultaneously — that’s working with all of our partners in the criminal justice system working with all the partners in the city agencies to accomplish that.”

He admits the job won’t be easy with an over 40% vacancy rate for corrections officers and current officers having to work massive amounts of overtime to keep the system operating.

“It’s daunting but it’s doable, and I have experience having done it in the city of Baltimore for their prisons,” Resnick said.

He said he’s ready to work through other issues, including court oversight that has been part of the system for decades, in one way or another.

The appointment comes two weeks after former Philadelphia Prisons Commissioner Blanche Carney announced her retirement.

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