Wisconsin Department of Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher has resigned after two years overseeing the state’s prison system. Litscher announced on Wednesday that he will continue to serve until June when Deputy Secretary Cathy Jess will take over as DOC Secretary.
Jess has been involved in Wisconsin Corrections for over 30 years. She was the warden at Dodge Correctional as well as warden of women’s corrections in Wisconsin.
Jess has been Deputy Secretary since February 2016. She will be the first woman to head the agency.
“Cathy Jess is an experienced leader with a strong background, and we welcome her to this new role,” said Governor Scott Walker in a statement. “I also give my deep appreciation and thanks to Jon Litscher for his outstanding work as DOC secretary and for his many years of dedicated service as a state official and educator. Jon is a consequential leader who brought about positive change and enacted numerous reforms that improved the department.”
Jess says that she is looking forward to working with Governor Walker on continued correctional reforms.
Litscher was in his second stint as DOC Secretary and volunteered for the position several years ago to help Governor Walker navigate the future of corrections.
Litscher often expressed continued concern about the rising prison population in Wisconsin, and earlier this year pledged that the department would not turn to private prisons on his watch.
“I’m thankful to Governor Walker and to our Department employees for the privilege of serving as secretary these last two years,” said Litscher. “I’m incredibly proud of what we have been able to accomplish during this time, including the transformation of juvenile corrections in Wisconsin, significant investments in reentry, mental health services, education, and vocational training, and reforms which have benefited our staff.”