Mayor Cherelle Parker appoints new Philadelphia prisons commissioner amid recent 'challenges'

Michael R. Resnick has been named the next commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Prison by Mayor Cherelle Parker, who says he is the right choice to help the city face challenges currently plaguing the system.

"I believe we have found and appointed exactly who we need to lead our prison system into a new era of safety and stability," Parker said.

Resnick, 58, served as the Acting Philadelphia Prisons Commissioner in 2016 after his role as the city's Director of Public Safety for five years.

He also served the State of Maryland as Commissioner of Pretrial Detention and Services in the state’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Parker says Resnick's "wealth of experience" will lead him to meet the "challenges facing our correctional system."

Over the past year, Philadelphia prisoner escapes have reached at least five, sparking more and more frequent manhunts across the city.


Philadelphia prisoner escapes reach 5 over past year as search continues for latest escapee

Searches have scoured the city over the past several months as news of prisoners escaping Philadelphia police custody has become more and more frequent.

"Our prison system is in transition, as are many prisons nationwide," Parker said. "My Administration is committed to making every change needed to implement a well-run prison system." 

Resnick, who will fill the position vacated by Commissioner Blanche Carney’s recent retirement, says he is "honored by the opportunity."

"I am cognizant of the issues facing the Department, and the challenges that lie ahead," he said. "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." 

Resnick’s appointment comes the same day civil rights groups, including the Abolitionist Law Center, filed a motion for contempt for the jails’ failures to comply with a court-monitored settlement agreement.

The case, originally filed in 2020, was settled two years later with part of the agreement including a federal court monitor assigned to assess compliance with the agreement.  

Among the monitor’s findings, according to the Abolitionist Law Center, was that in December 2023 there was a 46% vacancy rate for correctional officers.

"I think regardless of the new leadership, what we’re trying to bring attention to is that these issues are going to take years to resolve," said Nia Holston, staff attorney. "This is an urgent problem that requires urgent solutions, and the most urgent solution is to reduce not increase the population."

The city has not responded to requests for comment about the filing.