Jon Ortiz | Sacramento Bee
Matt Cate, secretary of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, may have the toughest job in state government….The Bee recently interviewed Cate at his Sacramento office.
How is realignment going so far?
It’s going along as expected…We’re working every day to smooth out the bumps in the road.
How will the public be able to gauge whether this works?
We were facing a prisoner release (court) order…if we avoid an early release order from the Supreme Court, that will be a sign of success…We know prison spending has been growing at an unsustainable rate. If we see that coming down … that will be a sign of success.
And if we see recidivism rates reduced from the neighborhood of 70 percent, then we’ll know the counties are fulfilling their promise, which has been, “We can do this better.”
How is department morale?
As I talk to employees, they’re concerned about their future. They’re worried about their families.
But we’ve been able to work out (labor) agreements (that include) voluntary moves from overstaffed prisons to prisons where we’re understaffed. We’re also trying to reduce staffing levels over time, which will minimize the impact.
This is actually an opportunity to remake the prisons. For the first time there’s a chance to run them the way they were designed.
Might this prod more long-serving employees to retire?
It might. That’s a mixed bag for me. It makes room for some of the younger employees to stay on. On the other hand, you lose a great deal of experience.
One of the things that makes California unique is that we pay our officers and free staff pretty well compared to the rest of the country, so our longevity and experience levels are the best in the nation. That’s how you’re able to run a prison at 195 percent of design capacity. I hate to lose that.
What will work be like for those who remain?
There will be less overtime. … You’ll have to adjust your lifestyle if you’re making your boat payment with overtime every month…(Full text at Sacramento Bee)
Paco finds the SecrAttorney’s response to the question of employee morale troubling in that he said absolutely nothing about morale.
“As I talk to employees, they’re concerned about their future. They’re worried about their families.”
I daresay concern over the future and family are constants. Moreover, it is possible to be worried about the future and family and still have high morale. So the question remains unanswered.
Perhaps Cate felt it is obvious morale in CDCR has never been lower–It goes without saying.
Another interesting statement is Cate’s assertion “the counties” promised “We can do this better.” Over the past several months, this site has chronicled one county officer after another complaining about realignment. Yes, a handful have made bold claims of visionary plans but, on balance, the counties have NEVER issued anything approximating a promise to “do this better.”