Mayor Parker appoints Michael R. Resnick as prisons commissioner

Mayor Cherelle Parker has appointed Michael R. Resnick to serve as commissioner of Philadelphia’s prison system. Resnick, 58, is a gay man and among the highest-ranking LGBTQ+ officials within Parker’s administration.

Resnick, an attorney, has spent more than two decades working in a variety of public safety and criminal justice system positions in Philadelphia and Maryland. He’ll oversee a prison system that houses about 4,600 inmates.

In 2016, he served as acting Philadelphia prisons commissioner and helped implement reforms to ease prison overcrowding. Resnick also served as commissioner of pretrial detention and services for Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, where he was responsible for overseeing Baltimore’s jails.

From 2011 to 2015, Resnick served as the city’s director of public safety under then-Mayor Michael A. Nutter, overseeing numerous public safety entities.

Resnick’s predecessor is Blanche Carney, who recently retired after a stormy tenure. She was the city’s first female prisons commissioner. Carney’s salary at the time of her departure was $190,290, according to city records.

Resnick will take the helm of a department that’s been plagued with jail riots; inmate suicides; inmate escapes; assaults and killings of inmates; substance abuse among inmates; and low staff morale.

Leon A. King II served as the city’s first openly-gay prisons commissioner from 2002 to 2008. Resnick served as King’s chief of staff during that time period.

“I commend Mayor Parker for making a great choice,” King told PGN. “Mr. Resnick was my chief of staff when I served as prisons commissioner. He did a wonderful job as my chief of staff. I also worked as his deputy commissioner in Baltimore when he served as commissioner of pretrial detention. Mr. Resnick supported — one-hundred percent — all of the initiatives I instituted at the city jails. I’m sure he will be very open to listening to the concerns of the community and acting accordingly.”

In a press release, Parker praised Resnick’s attributes. 

“Michael Resnick brings a wealth of experience in criminal justice and public safety to his new role as the Parker Administration’s prison commissioner,” Parker stated. “He cares, and he is a manager who respects employees. We have challenges facing our correctional system, as do many other cities across our country. I believe Michael Resnick is the right choice to help us meet those challenges.”

Parker said a nationwide search was conducted prior to Resnick being selected. 

“Our prison system is in transition — as are many prisons nationwide,” Parker added. “My administration is committed to making every change needed to implement a well-run prison system.”

Resnick declined to comment for this story. In a press release, Resnick said he was honored to be selected.

“I am cognizant of the issues facing the department, and the challenges that lie ahead,” Resnick stated. “But I think everyone needs to remember that every day, brave men and women are hard at work in our jails, performing a difficult job helping to keep our city safe. I look forward to joining them and improving their working conditions and the conditions of the incarcerated people in our custody.”

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