Luzerne representatives call for Corrections secretary to be fired

HARRISBURG, Oct. 29 – Three Luzerne County state representatives are asking Gov. Tom Wolf to dismiss Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John E. Wetzel following comments he made at the recent public hearing regarding the proposed closure of SCI-Retreat.

During the Oct. 17 public hearing, Wetzel was overheard on an open microphone saying: “Honestly, we’re just making it look like I’m paying attention. I just want people to think that I’m paying attention.”

State Reps. Gerald Mullery, Mike Carroll and Eddie Day Pashinski today sent a letter to the offices of the governor and Wetzel saying the following:

“What are we, or anyone hearing such a comment, to think about the sincerity, professionalism, or empathy of the person making this statement? Secretary Wetzel confirmed what many believed, that neither he nor your administration take Act 133 seriously. Without doubt, Secretary Wetzel’s comments are in violation of the spirit of Act 133 if not the letter of the law. He proved the public hearing was nothing more than a charade. Upon making his comments, Secretary Wetzel removed all doubt that he possesses the ability or temperament to remain in his position and make an unbiased recommendation regarding the closure of SCI-Retreat.

“We call upon you to immediately remove Secretary Wetzel from his position and replace him with an individual of integrity capable of a sincere review of the testimony and data provided at the October 17th hearing. The public safety of the Commonwealth should not be entrusted to someone who clearly lacks the honor and principle required of the position. Clearly, the lives and well-being of SCI-Retreat’s 400 employees and 1,100 inmates are not the priority of this man.

“You cannot sit idly by and allow members of your cabinet to lead with such callousness, especially at this time of great importance when the closure of this facility is under consideration. We firmly believe the safety of all Pennsylvanians is at stake and certainly the lives of the 400 employees and the economic stability of an entire region,” they concluded.