Skip to main content

Purchase Tickets

PA Secretary of Corrections Joins ESP Board

Eastern State Penitentiary Appoints Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections John E. Wetzel to Board of Directors

December 13, 2018

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site welcomes John E. Wetzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, to its Board of Directors. The appointment reinforces the prison museum’s increasing reputation as a national site hosting dialogue on American criminal justice reform.

John Wetzel, with more than 29 years of experience in the field, is widely recognized as one of the thought leaders in corrections today. He presided over the first state prison population reduction in Pennsylvania in more than four decades, a restructuring of the community corrections and mental health systems, and a re-engineering of internal processes to yield a more efficient system of program delivery. He’s traveled to Germany for inspiration to improve his prisons, and was recently featured on a 60 Minutes special about the positive changes he’s implementing in the Department of Corrections.

Secretary Wetzel is also a longtime adviser to the historic site, having consulted on such projects as Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration, Eastern State Penitentiary’s award-winning exhibit about the state of our modern criminal justice system. In his new capacity as member of the Board of Directors, Secretary Wetzel offers valuable perspective to Eastern State Penitentiary’s development of future programs interpreting the legacy of U.S. criminal justice reform.

Danielle Rice, Chair of Eastern State Penitentiary’s Board says, “We are thrilled to welcome Secretary Wetzel to the Eastern State Board. His leadership in the Department of Corrections and his influential policy innovations make him ideally suited to helping Eastern State during this exciting time of growth and renewal.”

“We are excited to welcome Secretary Wetzel, a nationally recognized leader in law enforcement, to our exceptional Board of arts and museum administrators, prison reform advocates, Returning Citizens, and other leaders in the field,” says Sally Elk, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site President and CEO.

John E. Wetzel was appointed Secretary of Corrections for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in January 2011 by Governor Corbett and reappointed by Governor Wolf in January 2015. Secretary Wetzel serves as chairman of the Council of State Government's Justice Center, president of the Association of State Correctional Administrators, and member of Harvard's Executive Session on Community Corrections. A graduate of Bloomsburg University, he holds honorary doctorates of law from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Chestnut Hill College.

Secretary Wetzel’s Board appointment officially took effect July 24, 2018. He will serve a three-year term. As a Board Director, he will be responsible for becoming conversant with and involved in key policy matters of Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc.: its mission, goals and objectives, programs, governance, and finances.

About Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site:
Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America's most notorious lawbreakers, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and Al Capone.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The penitentiary is open seven days a week, year round. When purchasing online, admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and children ages 7-12. When purchasing at the door, admission is $16, $14, and $12, respectively. (Not recommended for children under the age of seven.) Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; Hands-On History interactive experiences; history exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations.

For more information and schedules, the public should call (215) 236-3300 or visit

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site Mission:
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site interprets the legacy of American criminal justice reform, from the nation’s founding through to the present day, within the long-abandoned cellblocks of the nation’s most historic prison.
- Adopted by the Board of Directors, June 2017


Tweet This!
.@EasternState Penitentiary, the world’s first penitentiary and now its leading criminal justice museum, recently appointed John E. Wetzel, PA Secretary of Corrections (@DOCSecretary), to its Board of Directors.


2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner