Earlier this year, Governor Jerry Brown announced at a press conference that the prison emergency in California was over. The state had been under mandate by the U.S. Supreme Court to reduce its prison population and improve medical care for inmates, and the Governor says California has spent billions of dollars to hire more staff to ensure that the system has excellent health care. So in January, Brown signed an executive order eliminating the emergency, and filed papers to terminate the federal oversight of the mental health system.
“This is a very intrusive effort by federal judges to fix and remedy the mental health system, but at some point, the job is done,” Brown said.
But the state has yet to meet the benchmarks set by the court for reducing the prison population to 112,000 inmates, and it’s still unclear whether, in the long term, realignment will bring the actual number down or up.
The man who will lead the department of corrections and rehabilitation as it navigates these legal questions is Secretary Jeffrey Beard. He spoke with KALW’s Holly Kernan about how he will approach his new job.
Click the audio player above to listen to the interview.
Let us know what you think the secretary should tackle in his new job – leave us a message on our tipline at 415-264-7106.