The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 8, 2013
Personnel panel grills Corrections lawyer on services contract

100602 yolo county gavel.jpgIf the 50-minute spanking disguised as a State Personnel Board hearing Thursday was any indication, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will again be on the losing side of an outsourcing contract dispute.

And this may be just the beginning.

Members of the State Personnel Board spent nearly all of their time at the hearing grilling Scott Wyckoff, the supervising deputy attorney general who defended CDCR's $6 million, three-year contract with Williams & Associates to handle inmate lawsuits against the state. (Our Thursday column lays out the arguments for and against the contract.)

It didn't help Wyckoff's case that the agreement in question was entered into just weeks after the board deemed a similar $5 million deal to be illegal. That first contract, "Williams I," expired in mid-2012, and "Williams II" started the next day. Taken together, CDCR's deal with the firm runs up to six years and up to $11 million, despite the personnel board's earlier disapproval.

State law requires that whenever an agency determines it needs to contract for outside legal counsel, it must notify the state lawyer's union, California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges, and Hearing Officers in State Employment, also called CASE. It's a check on runaway contracting and a layer of protection for civil service.

During the back-and-forth with the panel, Wyckoff mentioned that the department had other contracts with other law firms. When asked by board member Lauri Shanahan for details -- how many other law firms are under contract or their cost -- Wyckoff couldn't say.

"I don't know the answer to that," Wyckoff said. "Perhaps CASE ..."

Board president Patricia Clarey then turned to CASE attorney Patrick Whalen and asked what was the toughest question posed to him during the hearing: "Can you offer some thought on that?"

"I was shocked to learn today of other cases out there beyond Williams & Associates," Whalen said. "There may well be future challenges if we can find out (more) about them."

The board is expected to render a decision in a month or so.


June 4, 2013
Read why the state overturned California prison guard firings

Thumbnail image for NOTEBOOK1.jpgOur report in today's Bee provides a glimpse into the case of five correctional officers who, according to the State Personnel Board, were unjustly fired last year for allegedly abusing an inmate in 2011.

The story builds on a heavily-redacted 33-page proposed decision by Teri Block, one of the board's administrative law judges. Block includes a detailed narrative of events based on investigations and testimony and then dissects lapses in the investigation.

We've embedded Block's October decision below followed by board's final decision from January. Corrections officials asked for reconsideration, which the board rejected.

February 7, 2013
Department of Corrections: New budget climate equals better accounting

130207 Pelican Bay.JPGWith just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, most of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Our column in today's Bee about the state's struggle with big-picture data, included a reference to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's trouble with producing spending reports to the Legislature.

As we noted, Corrections produced the numbers on time this year. A shift in political winds helped.

January 9, 2013
Read the legal arguments for ending prison oversight by feds

Gov. Jerry Brown wants the federal court to end its control of California's prisons, arguing Tuesday that the state has solved problems with inmate health care and prison overcrowding that prompted the intervention.

Bee reporters Sam Stanton, David Siders and Denny Walsh teamed up on this story about Brown's position and the coming legal battle it will assuredly provoke. Dan Walters' column today weighs in with historical perspective on Brown's prison politics.

Here's the state's request to the federal courts, which lays out the administration's rationale for the state resuming full control of the penal system. The main points are distilled in the table of contents.

Motion to Vacate by jon_ortiz

December 19, 2012
Jerry Brown appoints new Department of Corrections secretary

From Bee Capitol Bureau colleague David Siders:

Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed a former Pennsylvania prison chief secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Brown's office announced this morning.

Click here for more information on Brown's appointee, Jeffrey Beard.

December 12, 2012
California prison health care receiver issues lay off notices

Thumbnail image for kelso.jpegCalifornia Correctional Health Care Services has issued lay off warnings to 2,200 of its employees with a goal of axing 829 positions early next year.

The cuts will touch nearly 60 job classifications around the state, from doctors to custodians and impact 38 jobs in Sacramento County. The statewide cuts take effect Mar. 31, 2013.

The state normally issues three lay off warning notices for every position it cuts, and workers in danger of losing their jobs can displace less-senior counterparts in state government, so it's not clear how many staff will actually lose work. Officials don't have an estimate of savings from the reductions.

"Ultimately there is a lot of realigning of staff between facilities and classifications so there is no way to quantify the potential savings associated with the layoffs," Health Care Services spokeswoman Liz Gransee said in an email.

October 26, 2012
Head of California's prison system leaving to head county group

Thumbnail image for 120717 Matt Cate 2011 Benton.JPGFrom The Bee's David Siders:

Matt Cate, who oversaw a dramatic, court-ordered reduction of California's prison population as secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, is resigning, the Brown administration confirmed this afternoon.

Cate will become executive director of the California State Association of Counties.

Click here to read more on our sister blog, Capitol Alert.

PHOTO CREDIT: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Matt Cate in Sacramento office during a 2011 interview. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

July 17, 2012
CA Department of Corrections to host rehabilitation workshops

120717 Matt Cate 2011 Benton.JPGThe California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has planned two public workshops to gather public input for how it can improve rehabilitation programs for inmates and parolees.

The department said in a news release this morning that it anticipates suggestions from organizations that run substance abuse programs, from academics and from employment services, among others.

The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday in Los Angeles in the auditorium of the Junipero Building at 320 W. 4th St.

The second is set for downtown Oakland next Tuesday, July 24, in the auditorium of the Elihu M. Harris State Building at 1515 Clay St.

Both workshops start at 9 a.m. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m.

June 4, 2012
Former California prison dentist loses bid to reclaim his job

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgJames Ward, who has been fighting for the state job he lost three years ago, has lost his case before the State Personnel Board.

The five-member panel's decision last month was a rarity because it overturned an administrative law judge's proposed ruling. Most of the time the board goes along with what SPB judges decide.

Wendell Phillips, Ward's attorney, said today that his client wants to continue the fight in civil court. He will seek back pay with interest well in excess of $1 million in addition to being restored to his former job.

Ward learned of the SPB ruling last week, which says the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation didn't violate civil service rules when staff mistakenly promised him a full-time permanent position then changed his status to temporary.

Related post: The State Worker: Personnel case takes on how the state handles hiring

Ward sold his San Diego practice to take the dentist job at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe and hasn't worked since his release in 2009. He contends that the department should have stuck to its original offer, even though he signed papers acknowledging the change in employment terms after receiving assurances the job would eventually become permanent.

An SPB judge sided with Ward, but the board itself decided to set aside the proposed decision and hear the case on Feb. 7. The panel concluded that Ward lost the right to challenge the matter when he signed off on the change and didn't challenge it in writing within 30 days.

Here's the ruling:

April 23, 2012
UPDATED: California's prison plan changes who makes staffing decisions

Editor's note, April 24, 10:35 a.m.: This post, orginally published on Monday, now includes a comment from the California Correctional Peace Officers' Association.

A plan rolled out today to overhaul the state's penal system includes a big change to how prisons are staffed.

"The Future of California Corrections: A Blueprint to Save Billions of Dollars, End Federal Court Oversight and Improve the Prison System" lays out a plan to centralize and standardize staffing instead of leaving such decisions to each prison as they are now.

The shift is part of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's effort to slash its costs by $1 billion and eliminate 5,500 positions in 2012-13.

JeVaughn Baker, spokesman for the 29,000-member California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which represents roughly 29,000 prison officers, said the union is evaluating the proposal.

"The total implications of CDCR's staffing plan is yet to be determined but we will continue to thoroughly evaluate the proposal," Baker said in an e-mail. "If the plan is successful at ensuring safe operations inside the institution and our potential concerns are addressed, there may be an opportunity for collaboration with the state in the endeavor."

Until now, a prison's management decided how to allocate staff based on how many inmates a facility housed. California's budget crises forced difficult and disparate decisions.

Some prisons cut correctional officers and other custody staff, which "led to situations at some institutions where general population inmates are no longer let out of their cells due to insufficient custody personnel being available to maintain safe and secure prisons," the CDCR report says.

Others preserved custody jobs and cut support staff. But many of those jobs are vital to keeping facilities up and running and aren't tied to how many inmates a prison is holding: "Further population-driven reductions from plant operations," CDCR says, "would leave the prisons with insufficient staff to maintain the physical plant of the facility."

Now, with the prison population shrinking, the state has a chance to standardize staffing and gain efficiencies from it. A "team of correctional experts" developed the standards for most of the prisons that will be running in 2013-14 when the new staffing plan is supposed to take hold, the report says. Some older institutions still need to be evaluated.

California State Prison, Sacramento, for example, will shed about 66 custody positions and add about 26 health care jobs. In sum, the facility will lose about 29 positions in 2012-13.

Californians to Watch: Matthew Cate directs prison downsizing
The Future of California Corrections (executive summary)
The Future of California Corrections (full report)
Institution Profiles (details the staffing changes at each facility)
Court-ordered targets for California inmate population reduction (includes weekly census)

March 15, 2012
Column Extra: Read the judge's rejected ruling in the James Ward complaint against CDCR

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, most of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Our State Worker column in today's Bee examines the dispute between James Ward, who worked as chief dentist at Ironwood State Prison until July 2009, and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Ward says he accepted in good faith a permanent position that was illegally voided when the state said the job was really temporary and eventually let him go.

The department says its employees were mistaken when they assured Ward the job was permanent. Returning him to a permanent state job now would bind departments to the erroneous actions of their lowest-level staff and managers, CDCR lawyers have argued.

SPB Judge Jeanne Wolfe heard arguments in the case and issued a decision last September in favor of Ward. As is its prerogative, the board rejected Wolfe's ruling and heard the case for itself last month. We expect a ruling within a few weeks.

Here's Wolfe's decision, which includes many more details about the matter than we could jam into our column:
James Ward v. CDCR

March 1, 2012
Lawmakers hammer Corrections official for lack of accounting

Lawmakers lit into a California state prisons official Wednesday afternoon for his department's failure to account for its spending -- twice.

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, called his budget subcommittee to order and then quickly skipped down to the second issue on the agenda, an update on why the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation hasn't produced spending reports that the Legislature demanded when it gave CDCR an extra $380 million last year.

As Cedillo and other angry assemblymembers at the hearing noted, the extra money went to Corrections while programs for the elderly, the sick and children all suffered cuts.

But after years of what amounted to fictional cost estimates and perpetually blown budgets for the state's most expensive agency, Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers agreed to a 2011-12 budget that gave the $9 billion-plus department the extra money. According to figures provided to The Bee by Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Bob Blumenfield's office, it was the fourth year in the past five that the Legislature kicked up extra money to cover CDCR's overspending. The augmenting funds totaled nearly $3 billion.

Last year, hoping to get costs under control, the Legislature added reporting strings to the money. The first report was due within 75 days of the budget's enactment last June. A second report is due today. Corrections hasn't produced any information yet.

February 7, 2012
California Prison Industry Authority: Agency business costs hurt bottom line

After years of profitability, the California Prison Industry Authority suffered a $15.3 million loss last year, according to its latest annual report to the state Legislature.

The losses in fiscal 2010-11 came from a $17.4 million drop in operating revenues and $8.6 million the self-funded PIA set aside in anticipation of settling union furlough lawsuits. The authority also paid $6.3 million to cover Other Post-Employment Benefits such as retiree health care and a $2.8 million expense from factory closures.

"If not for the furlough expense, the annual OPEB charge, and the onetime costs associated with factory closures, CALPIA would have continued its profitability in FY 2010-11," the report says.

The PIA oversees four inmate training programs that operate manufacturing, service, and agriculture industries at 22 correctional facilities. They produce everything from modular buildings and fire protection gear to furniture and pre-packaged meals. Most of what PIA makes is purchased by the state or other government entities.

More than 7,000 inmates participate, saving the state "more than $11 million annually in General Fund costs for rehabilitation positions that CDCR does not have to fund," the annual report says. Those inmates make between 30 and 95 cents per hour before deductions.

Participants without a high school diploma must earn a GED within two years to continue in the program. Joint Venture Program participants earn a comparable wage less deductions for things like taxes, room and board, crime victim compensation, government-ordered restitution such as child support. Inmates in the program also have to put money into a savings account.

Graduates from the PIA's Career Technical Education program, which gives inmates "hands-on experience in real world training," were 89 percent less likely to return to prison when compared with the prison system's general population, according to the report. Overall, PIA participants across the board had a 24 percent to 30 percent lower recidivism rate than the general prison population.

January 31, 2012
Poll: What do you think of the CCPOA union paid leave deal?

As we reported last week, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association has reached a deal with the state to settle its union paid leave bill for $3.5 million by making payments over the next nine years sans interest.

The figure represents $1 million less than the state said the union owes on the tab that runs back to 2005, but it's $500,000 more than CCPOA said it owes the state.

Click here to read the language of the settlement, which we wrote about in last week's State Worker column.

So what do you think about the agreement?

January 30, 2012
Department of Corrections sends out another 545 layoff warnings

Thumbnail image for 100625 CDCR logo.JPGThe California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has issued 545 layoff warning notices to employees, including 140 correctional officers.

Department officials said in this email that the letters went out Thursday and Friday, prompted by the penal system's shrinking inmate population. There are now 14,000 fewer people in California's state prisons than when Corrections and county jails launched so-called "realignment" on Oct. 1.

CDCR is still offering opportunities for staff in danger of layoff to move to jobs at other facilities with vacancies. "That offer stands but interested staff must act quickly," according to the Friday email announcing the layoffs.

From the outset, Corrections officials have said that the department's size will track with the prison population as it shrinks through attrition. That means more layoff notices and are coming.

Click here to open CDCR's layoff resources website.


January 26, 2012
Column Extra: CCPOA's statement about its paid leave debt agreement

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, some of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Before we filed today's column, we asked JeVaughn Baker, spokesman for the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, to comment on the union's paid leave agreement with the state. We asked if the agreement was fair to members and whether the deal was prompted by CCPOA's pending Dawe litigation.

We received Baker's emailed reply shortly after we filed the column on Wednesday, but we still want to give voice to the union's perspective.

Here's Baker's email:

Hi Jon,

We reached what we believe is an equitable settlement that avoids the cost of further litigation and is fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of the state. ... As for your second question, the settlement is a stand alone case and there is no correlation between it and the Dawe matter. Chuck Alexander and our legal staff have been working on UPL for some time now and we are pleased that the agreement has been made and both parties can move forward. Thanks Jon.


January 18, 2012
Read the court order mandating wind-down of prison receiver

In case you missed it, the Associated Press has reported that the receivership overseeing the state's prison medical system needs to begin winding down:

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered California officials to prepare for the end of a six-year, court-ordered oversight of the prison system that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars and helped force a shift of lower-level criminals from state prisons to county jails.

U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson cited improving conditions in the prison system in a three-page order that says "the end of the Receivership appears to be in sight."

The ruling marks an important milestone in a process that began nearly six years ago when the judge appointed a receiver to run California's prison medical system after finding that an average of one inmate a week was dying of neglect or malpractice. He cited inmate overcrowding as the leading cause, but said in Tuesday's order that conditions have improved.

... Henderson ordered Kelso, state officials and attorneys representing inmates to report by April 30 on when the receivership should end and whether it should continue some oversight role.

Here's Henderson's Tuesday order:

November 22, 2011
Radio host Jeffrey Callison appointed to Corrections job

111122 CALLISON.JPGJeffrey Callison, whose Scottish brogue has been a distinctive feature of Capital Public Radio's "Insight" radio program for years, has been tapped for the press secretary of media relations position for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Gov. Jerry Brown's office announced Callison's appointment to the $102,015-per-year position this morning.

Callison, 50, has hosted the daily public affairs program on the Sacramento NPR affiliate since 2004. He started at the station as a reporter in 1996 and became its news director in 2000.

His one-hour radio show has spotlighted local politicians, pundits, musicians, artists and other newsmakers. Callison's demeanor and preparation for interviews came across on the air as a calm confidence that fit in with NPR's laid-back cerebral style.

The Corrections job doesn't require Senate confirmation. Callison is not registered to vote, according to this Brown administration press release, which also announced 12 other gubernatorial appointments.

CPR News Director Joe Barr said Callison would be missed: "Jeffrey helped build Insight into what it is today," Barr said in a statement. "We're really going to miss him and we wish him well in his new job. This is an opportunity to take the program in some new directions with a new host. We'll begin a search shortly."

PHOTO: Jeffrey Callison at Capital Public Radio's studio. / Jose Luis Villegas, Sacramento Bee, 2007

November 22, 2011
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation updates jobs lists

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has posted a new list that shows where the agency is overstaffed and cutting jobs and where it is understaffed and is looking to fill positions.

The new "Over/Under Report" put up online late Monday afternoon replaces two earlier lists that were on CDCR's Layoff Resources page one that purported to list spots CDCR wants to fill at unstaffed facilities and another that registered overstaffing at facilities around the state.

The lists conflicted, however, and CDCR pulled them down three weeks ago.

To fully understand the new chart, which you can view by clicking here, you should read this explanation of the data.

November 1, 2011
California corrections department posts erroneous jobs lists

Two lists at the center of a plan to reshuffle staffing within the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitationwere temporarily removed from the agency's website because of errors.

The department's job reduction list, which details positions slated to be axed, and its job vacancy list, which lays out positions that need to be filled, registered some of the same jobs. Following an inquiry on Monday from The State Worker about why the lists were removed, the department posted the lists again with a notice: "LINK TO OVERS AND UNDERS LISTS: (LISTS ARE IN THE PROCESS OF BEING UPDATED. WE ARE SORRY FOR THIS TEMPORARY INCONVENIENCE)."

Department spokesman Paul Verke confirmed the snafu in a voice mail to The State Worker, and we expect to speak with him soon about the particulars of the problem and when the lists will be updated.

Corrections published the lists as tools employees could use when considering whether to voluntarily transfer from facilities with too many staff to facilities with too few. The information has been on the department's continually-updated Layoff Resources website.

SEIU Local 1000, which represents several thousand CDCR workers from cooks to teachers to computer programmers and others, called the duplications to the attention of department officials last week, said union spokesman Jim Zamora.

CDCR confirmed the duplications and notified Local 1000 on Thursday that the department would postpone the Voluntary Transfer Process while it straightened out the problem. Local 1000 said in a memo to members. "CDCR is currently working on this issue and will notify Local 1000 when they are ready to meet."

November 1, 2011
SEIU trains staff, leaders on fine points of realignment

SEIU Local 1000 says that it has trained 30 staff and member leaders who will conduct meetings with Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employees about the agency's voluntary transfer process as it goes through realignment.

The voluntary transfer program is complicated and still has a few kinks to work out. Last week, for example, a snafu involving the department's lists of jobs slated for elimination and open positions surfaced. (When the lists are fixed, CDCR will post them on its Layoff Resources webpage.)

Since the start of realignment, officials have expected some problems. After all, we're talking about changing a far-flung department with more employees than the City of Rancho Cordova has residents.

Which is why SEIU has trained the task force to get its affected members up to speed and armed them with this summary of the realignment process and its impact on members' jobs:

October 31, 2011
From the notebook: Corrections has cut a fifth of executive jobs

Thumbnail image for notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the data, the notes and the quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Prior to our Saturday Q&A with Matt Cate, secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, we conducted several interviews with CDCR management. One of the questions that we asked during those discussions: With all of the job cutting at CDCR, how many Career Executive Assignments and exempt employee jobs has the department cut?

The department checked and got back to us. Here's the answer from part of an email sent last week by CDCR spokesman Paul Verke:

October 24, 2011
See savings estimates from California prison and parole shift

Our Saturday story about the first wave of 26,000 layoff warning notes going out to Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation staff included this sentence:

The state estimates shifting responsibility for some newly sentenced criminals to counties will save the corrections department about $453 million in this fiscal year and progressively more in subsequent years as the state prison and parole population dwindles.

Several readers over the weekend asked for more information. In response, we've embedded a Corrections/Department of Finance document below that outlines several prison and parole estimates, all keyed to an expectation that the state can shrink the current inmate population by 25 percent and the adult parole population by nearly two-thirds by fiscal 2014-15. The department's anticipated realignment savings that final year would be nearly $1.46 billion, or more than three times the savings officials think the policy will generate this year.

A few other points from the plan that jump out:

• The plan eliminates 3,700 out-of-state prison beds but keeps 8,000.
• It reduces CDCR academy funding to 400 correctional officers per year, about 800 fewer than leave service annually.
• The department started the 2011-12 fiscal year with 2,000 correctional officer openings.
• Correctional officer, nurse and physician assistant layoffs will be "mitigated through vacancy sweeps and attrition."
• The plan envisions laying off "most if not all retired annuitants."

October 21, 2011
California prisons issuing 26,000 layoff warning notices

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is issuing some 26,000 layoff warning notices to its employees over the next few days as it begins downsizing and shifting some of its work to local governments.

It's not clear how many employees are actually in danger of losing their jobs. Corrections is sending out more notices than the number of positions it expects it will cut, said Judy Gelein, deputy director of human resources for the CDCR.

The state has already started shifting its responsibility for some newly sentenced criminals to counties, creating a "timing issue," Gelein said, to quickly evaluate Corrections' personnel needs and make changes.

The department started mailing the notices today to staff with fewer than 10 years of service . CDCR can only process about 6,000 notices per day for mailing, so the bad news will continue going out into next week.

September 1, 2011
Corrections bestows awards on 48 department employees

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials awarded 48 employees for acts of bravery and innovation this morning at the department's 27th annual Medal of Valor ceremony at Sacramento's Radisson Hotel.

Gov. Jerry Brown opened the event, with a five-minute speech thanking corrections employees for their hard work. At the same time, he warned, the state's dire finances and ongoing court mandates and other factors will mean that CDCR employees will all need to continue "to work better, work smarter and work collaboratively."

Among the employees who received awards: Ken Wong, a San Francisco parole agent who launched a program in 2001 in which parolees clean up graffiti, plant trees and work on other community beautification projects.

August 30, 2011
Avenal correctional staff intercept cellphones, tobacco

110830 prison cellphones.JPGStaff at Avenal State Prison last week found cellphones, cellphone batteries and chargers and tobacco after a sergeant noticed a security fence breach on the south of the facility.

The discovery on Friday came one day after a key legislative committee approved Senate Bill 26, which would criminalize smuggling wireless devices into prison facilities.

According to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the discovery netted two bags filled with:

• 173 bundles of tobacco weighing approximately 17 pounds
• 25 cellular phones
• 26 cell phone chargers
• 11 cell phone batteries
• 5 cigarette lighters
• 1 pair of cell phone ear-buds
• 3 Micro SD memory cards

August 26, 2011
Corrections launches layoff information website

110826 CDCR layoff banner.JPGAs the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation faces unprecedented downsizing and layoffs, it's firing up a "CDCR Employee Layoff Resources" website that aims to deliver news and policy information to its employees and the public.

CDCR spokesman Paul Verke said the department will continually update the site with evolving information about facility closure and staff reduction plans. It's also intended as a go-to resource for the nuts-and-bolts details of personnel policies, civil service rules, the layoff process, seniority scores, and other CDCR job issues.

Employees also will find a frequently asked questions page, links to sites with job search and résumé tips and links to the department's employee wellness site, which includes suggestions for coping with the layoff process.


August 18, 2011
Corrections launches realignment website

100625 CDCR logo.JPGThe California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation launched a new website today that will keep track of the state's shift of some prison and parole obligations to local governments.

The "2011 Public Safety Realignment" site is intended to answer questions that employees, government officials and the public might have about Assembly Bills 109 and 117, Budget Committee measures that cut CDCR costs by handing over responsibilities for things like juvenile incarceration to local entities.

The site has information about "funding, the local planning process, post-release community supervision, parole revocations, and related legislation affecting California's prison population," a CDCR press release says, along with how the moves will impact jobs and layoffs.

Click here to view the department's realignment information homepage.


August 11, 2011
Corrections issues layoff projections for parole division

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation plans to terminate 841 employees in its parole division by September 2013, according to a new document issued Wednesday and obtained by The State Worker.

"Reductions reflect actual 'bodies' to be eliminated once unallocated positions, vacancies, limited term, out of class and retired annuitants have been deducted," footnotes in the document says.

The slashes to CDCR's Division of Adult Parole Operations aren't a surprise. Part of the budget that legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown passed earlier this year included shifting the state's parole functions to local government agencies. As that plan progresses, it means that state parole staff will be let go.

July 21, 2011
Read Controller John Chiang's Department of Corrections audit

As we reported Wednesday, Controller John Chiang's auditors found several problems with how the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation accounts for some payroll and travel expenses.

Several blog users asked us to post the audit. Here it is.

July 20, 2011
Audit hammers Corrections for poor financial controls

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100831 calculator.JPGA fired state employee received a final lump-sum paycheck for nearly $15,000 -- twice.

An $8,000 salary advance to one state worker went uncollected -- for nearly three years.

Overpayments to employees approaching a half-million dollars were carried on the books for three years or more.

Those are just three examples of what Controller John Chiang this afternoon called, "grossly inadequate" payroll and travel advance tracking discovered through an audit of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

June 30, 2011
Read the CDCR memo on professional development days

We mentioned in a post on Tuesday that today is the last day for most state employees to burn their 2010-11 Professional Development Days, although department mandates and some union contracts have caveats to that rule.

Here's a May 25 memo that outlines how CDCR is handling the policy for managers and rank and file. (Hat tip to Blog User J for passing it along.)
Requesting and Approving Professional Development Days

May 27, 2011
Patrol or prison officers: Who has the toughest beat?

We've wrapped up a story for next week's Bee that looks at the long, competitive relationship between California's correctional officers and its patrol officers.

We could have written a book.

Ahead of the story's publication, we're curious: Who do you think has the more difficult job between the two groups?

April 28, 2011
Lawsuit claims prison receiver spiking CalPERS pension

Thumbnail image for 100609 gavel.jpgPeel away the legalese, and a 62-page lawsuit in Sacramento comes down to this accusation: Prison Receiver J. Clark Kelso -- with help from a federal judge, the state court administrative system and CalPERS -- is spiking his state pension with his federal salary.

Daniel E. Francis v. CalPERS contends that Kelso's employment agreement illegally washes his pay through the state Administrative Office of the Courts so that the money can be factored into his CalPERS pension. Kelso has said the arrangement, while unusual, is above board and legal.

Francis is a retired state worker and therefore a CalPERS member.

The Bee reported last year that when federal judge Thelton Henderson appointed Kelso to take over the state prison system's medical program in 2008, the California Prison Healthcare Receivership Corporation, the non-profit business arm of the receiver, and the AOC agreed to put Kelso on the AOC payroll.

Technically, Kelso is on loan to the federal court. The receivership corporation reimburses the AOC for Kelso's pay and benefits. Ultimately, the state pays the receivership's costs.

Kelso has worked in various capacities for the state, so he was in CalPERS before taking the receiver job. In an interview with The Bee last year, he was open about his AOC employment agreement and his desire to remain in CalPERS while working as a federal court appointee. He said that the arrangement was legally vetted and doesn't break any laws.

At least one former state employee who was already working for the nonprofit when Kelso came onboard, Linda Buzzini, tried and failed to get her pay retroactively applied to her CalPERS retirement.

The plaintiff wants the court to revoke Kelso's CalPERS membership as an employee of the AOC.

Here's the court filing:

April 19, 2011
Corrections secretary responds to Bee editorial

1104119 Matt Cate.JPGThe Bee's Sunday editorial about the California Correctional Peace Officers Association contract has prompted Corrections Secretary Matt Cate to respond with a rebuttal to assertions the piece made about the deal.

Cate's letter, published on the department's "CDCR Star" web page, fires back at 10 points in the editorial.

Click here to read it.

Update, April 20, 5:15 a.m.: The Bee's editorial board has published a correction. Read it here.

PHOTO: CDCR Secretary Matt Cate /

January 10, 2011
Brown's budget cuts private prison spending

Thumbnail image for 100831 calculator.JPGWe're still combing through the budget for items of interest to state workers, but some of the best observations are coming from folks like Blog User S, who notes that private prison expenditures fall by 45 percent next year under Brown's budget.

This year's California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation budget assumes $410 million paid to private firms for housing California inmates. Next year the expenditure would drop to $224 million.

Out-of-state private prison costs, the most expensive line item in the CDCR contracted facilities budget, would go from $272 million in the current year to $148 million in 2011-12.

Click here to see details of the CDCR budget.


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Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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