Evers appointing Erpenbach chair of Wisconsin Parole Commission

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers is appointing former state Sen. Jon Erpenbach to lead the Wisconsin Parole Commission, the governor’s office announced Friday.

The senator, who was first elected in 1998, left office after deciding not to seek re-election in 2022.

“The Parole Commission plays an incredibly important role in our criminal justice system and in making sure that system is just, fair, and constructive,” Erpenbach said in a statement provided by Evers’ office Friday afternoon. “The success of the Commission depends on our ability to balance the law and public safety while supporting victims, survivors, and their families and keeping dangerous individuals off of our streets. It’s that balanced, thoughtful approach that I intend to take as chair. I look forward to serving the people of Wisconsin in this new role, and I want to thank Governor Evers for the opportunity to continue public service and for entrusting me with this important responsibility.”

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Erpenbach replaces Christopher Blythe, who was appointed to serve as the commission’s chair following the resignation of John Tate, II, last year.

Tate stepped down following a controversial decision to grant parole to Douglas Balsewicz, a man convicted in 1997 of fatally stabbing his wife. Tate later rescinded Balsewicz’s parole following backlash and a request from Evers to do so.

RELATED: Wisconsin chairman rescinds killer’s parole at Evers’ request

The decision became a high-profile issue in last year’s race for governor, with Republican hopefuls Rebecca Kleefisch, Tim Michels and Kevin Nicholson all criticizing the move.

After his resignation, Tate was named Madison’s first-ever independent police monitor in October but he later turned down the job to become Racine’s violence prevention manager.