Thirty years ago, the state spent three percent of its general fund dollars on corrections and prisons. Today it spends more than 11 percent – that’s $10 billion running the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
In 2011, when Governor Brown took office, he inherited a massive corrections problem. The state's 33 prisons were at nearly 200 percent capacity, and the recidivism rate was running at 70 percent. The federal courts stepped in and ordered California to reduce its overcrowded prisons by more than 30,000 people.
Enter Matthew Cate, the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections. Governor Jerry Brown has turned to Cate to help push through what Brown calls a "realignment" of the state's corrections policies – essentially moving non-serious, non-violent felons out of the state's prisons and into county jails.
But how will all these changes impact public safety in the state?
KALW Reporter Nancy Mullane sat down with Secretary Cate to find out more about the man overseeing the policies and politics of one of the largest prison systems in the world.