Two of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s former corrections secretaries say election-year politics thwarted their efforts to fix the crisis in California’s correctional system, prompting them to resign in frustration, reports the Los Angeles Times. Testifying in federal court, the two officials singled out the prison guards union and two top Schwarzenegger aides for most of the blame, saying the aides gave the union veto power over candidates for top jobs and a say in other key decisions.
Yesterday’s hearing, before U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, was prompted by a report from John Hagar, a special master appointed by the judge to oversee some corrections department functions. Former corrections secretary Jeanne Woodford said her agenda, which included reform of the parole system, more education and drug treatment for inmates, and a fresh look at who goes to prison and for how long – was not popular with Schwarzenegger aides consumed with his reelection. When she laid out her plan, Schwarzenegger said, “That sounds reasonable.” His aides then said, “Governor, it’s an election year.”