Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Rick Raemisch

Rick Raemisch

Rick Raemisch, who has decades of experience working in numerous areas of the criminal justice system, was appointed Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections by Governor John Hickenlooper in July 2013. During his short time with the CDOC, Rick has successfully implemented prison reforms in Colorado, resulting in a safe, dramatic reduction of offenders held in administrative segregation—now less than 1% of the population—and the elimination of administrative segregation for offenders suffering from serious mental illness. Releasing offenders from administrative segregation directly to the community has also been eliminated. Rick has completely eliminated the use of segregation except for a maximum of 15 days of punitive segregation, which is only used for the most serious offenses. Colorado is currently the only state in the nation to do this.

Rick is recognized as a leader on prison reform and is highly sought after to lecture and participate as a subject matter expert on both the national and international level. He has testified on corrections matters before a U.S. Senate Sub-Committee involving the overuse of segregation, and has participated in numerous forums on corrections at prestigious universities including Yale Law School, New York University School of Law, and New York City’s John Jay College. Rick has also assisted and been a member of the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. meetings in Cape Town and Vienna to re-write prisoner standards, now known as the Mandela Rules. He has authored a number of corrections articles, including in the New York Times, and has been profiled by them. Rick was the recipient of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ 2016 Sam Cochran Criminal Justice Award, given in recognition of outstanding work within the criminal justice system to deal fairly and humanely with people living with mental illness. In addition, Rick was the 2017 recipient of the Tom Clements Innovation Award, given by the Association of State Correctional Administrators in recognition of excellence in developing and implementing successful innovations in corrections.

Prior to joining the Colorado DOC, Rick was head of the Wisconsin DOC, where he was accountable for more than 96,000 inmates and individuals on probation or parole, including 1,000 juveniles. Under Rick’s leadership, Wisconsin built strong reentry initiatives and the state lowered its prison population for three consecutive years at the same time that the crime rate was dropping for the first time since the construction of the state’s first prison in the 1850s.

Rick joined the Wisconsin Department of Corrections in 2003 as the Division Administrator of Community Corrections, overseeing 68,000 probationers and parolees. Prior to taking over as the head of the Wisconsin DOC in 2007, he served as Deputy Secretary for two years.

In 1990, Rick was elected Sheriff of Dane County in Wisconsin and was reelected four more times before entering the private sector in 1997. During this time he was named Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement Executive of the Year by then Attorney General James Doyle, and has received numerous other awards for his achievements in the criminal justice system.

Rick’s career in criminal justice began in 1976 as a Deputy Sheriff at the Dane County Sheriff’s Office in Madison, Wisconsin.  He then transitioned to work as an undercover narcotics detective. Rick holds a Juris Doctor Cum Laude degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Law and has served as Assistant District Attorney in Dane County, Wisconsin and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.