SecrAttorney wants to “smooth out the bumps”

Oct 31st, 2011 | By | Category: Realignment, Spotlight

California corrections secretary seeks to ‘smooth the bumps’ of realignment

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.”

They can’t.

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7 Comments to “SecrAttorney wants to “smooth out the bumps””

  1. tmal says:

    With what Cates just said, a reduction in staff over a period of time to avoid layoffs, lets stop talking about their will be certain layoffs soon everyday on here, its stressing the hell out of a lot of people, lets take what he said, sigh a little bit of relief but still keep the seatbelts on cause their is turbulence ahead.

  2. kl2008a says:

    The big joke that the counties can house the prison inmates cheaper than the State can will dissapate within 8-12 months when the bodies start increasing and the county finds it harder to hire more deputies/jailers to meet the demand, and the positions are covered with overtime. While Jerry says he’ll pay the cost, I doubt very seriously if he will cover it at the county paying time and a half, let alone any longer than a year or two out. The costs alone will make many (if not all) the county’s to go belly up while Jerry sits back, feet on his desk, and claims it’s no longer HIS problem. I concur with BigDaddy, that once the PLO gets their teeth into the county jails they’ll strike gold.

    • Bob Walsh says:

      DOJ had a huge staff of lawyers who did nothing but respond to prisoners legal claims. Even if they were complete BS it still costs money to respond to them. I suspect that except for a couple of the large counties they don’t have anyone on staff with the expertise to do this. It will cost them a ton of money, even if all the complaints are proven to be bogus, which they won’t be.

  3. BigDaddy says:

    The counties will only do it cheaper until the Prison Law Office and other shady law ofices start demanding, and then suing for the same type of inmate treatment withn the county jails as they get in the state pen. The inmates will hate this deal as much as we will when they no longer have all thier “Rights”.

  4. King Wills says:

    This whole regretable affair is a lose/lose proposition for all parties involved. I rarely agree with anything that Cate says, but I must grudgingly agree with him about those C/O’s who rely too greatly on overtime. On my way to a sub-300 senority number, I’ve seen many, many guys who kept a lifestyle going thanks to OT, like the gravy would never stop pouring. Guys in West Block never worried about Christmas money because we could always count on a spike of violators in November and December. Look, I’ve been held over many, many times and I’ve made what most line C/O’s would call a ton of overtime. It’s just that I never spent the money on Seadoos, Harleys or any other toys. I mean no disrepect to those who have a more exciting way of living than I do, it’s just that now that West Block will be going general population, it’s a sign of the times that downsizing is here for real.

  5. lovemyjob says:

    Isn’t that why they were sent to the state to begin with from the county? Lack of programs. It didn’t work before, so why would it work now?

  6. Bob Walsh says:

    My recollection is that it was mostly Jerry and his (liberal) buddies saying “Maybe the counties can do this better, they certainly won’t do any worse, and they can do it cheaper,” or words to that effect. And of course it gets the state out from under a significant cut for Prop 98 with the redirection funding. IMHO this was actually an attempt to pass a hot potato. It is I confess BARELY POSSIBLE that it will work as hoped, after a few bumps in the road. It is also distinctly possible it will turn out to be an unmitigated disaster. More likely it is just passing a problem from one agency to another with the hope it may work better, and the definite promise that if it doesn’t the blame (thats what is important after all) will definitely pass from the state to the counties. For the state it is a win-win, assuming you don’t give a rat’s ass about public safety or the future of the public employees impacted by the decision.