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Warden named for Franklin County prison

January 04, 2002

Warden named for Franklin County prison



By STACEY DANZUSO
chbbureau@innernet.net


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The six-month search for a new prison warden is over, and a Berks County, Pa., corrections official will take over the job in two weeks.

The Prison Board announced Thursday it has hired John E. Wetzel as the new Franklin County Prison warden to replace Ray Rosenberry, who retired last summer after nine years on the job.

Wetzel, 32, has nearly 12 years of corrections experience and is currently the director of training and staff development at Berks County Prison. He will take over on Jan. 17.

Wetzel said he is excited to get started, but first he has to get to know the people, the policies and procedures.

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"At this point it is a matter of getting to know everybody and the issues that need to be addressed," he said. "I know in the near future crowding is an issue and we need to find solutions to that."

The inmate population at the Franklin County Prison, which is on Franklin Farm Lane just outside Chambersburg, is five times what it was when they started keeping track in 1973, acting Warden Mike Knott said.

In 1973, the average daily inmate count was 64. It was 318 in 2001.

The inmate population at Berks County Prison is around 1,200, about four times as high as in Franklin County, Wetzel said.

While at Berks County Prison in Leesport, Pa., Wetzel has helped establish a state-approved curriculum for training. His corrections experience also includes time as the supervisor of treatment services, a treatment counselor and a correctional officer.

Wetzel "is raring to go," and he has already set up a three-pronged approach to achieve his goals of security, rehabilitation and social restoration, John Aguirre, director of Human Resources, said.

Providing a safe and secure environment at the prison is Wetzel's primary concern. He said he also wants to have more rehabilitation programs that give inmates the opportunity to attain the necessary life skills to succeed in the community.

Members of the Prison Board were impressed with Wetzel's outlook and credentials.

"He is an engaging young man. He has a good background and strong interests and motivation in corrections," Commissioner Warren Elliott, a Prison Board member, said. "We're excited to get someone with his background."

Knott described Wetzel as an outstanding corrections professional "on his way up."

The job of warden includes administrative management and enforcing procedures of custody, discipline and welfare of all prisoners.

The Prison Board in July updated the job description of the warden position.

The new description expands on the duties and requires more experience. Qualifications now include a minimum of seven years in the criminal justice field, with three at the management level. That's up from the three to five years with one year of supervisory experience required in the past.

Wetzel said he and his family will move to Franklin County after his wife, Theresa, delivers their fourth child next month.

Knott, who is on loan from the state department of corrections, has been at the prison since November and will stay on until mid-February.

Before he arrived, deputy Warden John Eyler served as acting warden.

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