Matthew Cate, head of California’s troubled, crowded prison system, is resigning to head the California State Association of Counties, the Los Angeles Times reports. His annual salary will be $288,000. Heading the Corrections Department since 2008, Cate was the fourth corrections secretary hired by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in five years. Cate was retained by Gov. Jerry Brown to preside over a campaign to cut prison spending and ease overcrowding.
Cate’s departure comes as the department is laying off employees and is in negotiations with a federal receiver over how to reshape prison health care in California. It is facing litigation over its use of segregation cells to isolate inmates indefinitely who are suspected of prison gang activity. Cate said that in addition to the current realignment of state corrections functions to counties, “we have successfully terminated five class-action lawsuits, overhauled the juvenile justice system, improved [ ] rehabilitative programs, and are implementing a legislatively approved plan that will further these reforms and reduce over-all prison costs.” Cate will maintain his position at Stanford Law School as law and policy fellow.