Jeffrey Beard, California's top prison official, is stepping down at the end of this year, reports the Sacramento Bee. In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, Beard, 68, said he will retire after three years as secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Beard said he and Brown had made “significant progress” meeting court orders to reduce overcrowding and improve health care. He added that “prisons are also safer now,” and that the corrections department had made progress stemming the flow of drugs behind bars and improving staff training.
Prior to his appointment, Beard worked for decades in Pennsylvania's state prison system, including positions as corrections counselor, warden, classification and treatment supervisor, superintendent and executive deputy secretary. He inherited a California department in turmoil when Brown tapped him to replace Matthew Cate in late 2012.