New leader, new direction: This isn't looking good

Why don't these leaders listen to people with experience in running a corrections system?


The California Department of Corrections And Rehabilitation has a new secretary.

He is Jeffrey Beard and he comes to us from Pennsylvania. He is, by any reasonable description, more of a warm-and-fuzzy than a custody-and-control kind of guy. Due to some people leaving the department for the possibly greener pastures of local agency realignment consulting, he has had to make a couple of fairly high level appointments.

These appointments do, I think, give us an idea of what direction he intends to take the department. 

He has appointed Martin Hoshino as the new (acting) Undersecretary of Operations. I do not know Mr. Hoshino personally, but I know a couple of people who do. He is said to be a bright guy, and a decent human being.  He does, however, have ZERO institution or parole experience. He came to the department from the Office of the Inspector General on the coat tails of the previous secretary, Matt Cate.

The new Secretary has also appointed Dr. Diane Toche as the (acting) Undersecretary of Administration and Offender Services. Dr. Toche is a dentist. 

I am happy to acknowledge that it is completely possible that both Mr. Hoshino and Dr. Toche will be completely adequate in their new jobs. I am, however, concerned. 

Secretary Beard (who likes to be called Dr. and makes sure to append Ph.D. after his name) seems to be putting people with zero line experience or background in high-level positions in much the same his predecessor, Matt Cate, placed lawyers in upper level positions.

Cate is a lawyer; he related to other lawyers and accepted most of his input from lawyers, rather than people with experience in running the system. Secretary Beard, though he ran the Pennsylvania DOC for some time, is primary an academic social worker. It appears that he will get his primary input from those of similar ilk.

In my humble opinion this does not bode well for the system in the formerly great state of California. Some types of management-administration jobs are interchangeable.  Some are not. I truly believe that running a prison system is a job that should be undertaken, and would be most effectively handled, by someone who has some actual been-there done-that time in a cell block.

What we are doing now might work. It will almost certainly work for a while at least.  There is a huge reservoir of talent in the field, many thousands of competent, trained and experienced people who work hard every day to make the system work. It would work better if there were people at the top who had some level of appreciation for what they do.

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