New Calif. prisons chief called "tough, fair, reform minded"
Jeffrey Beard, the former head of Pennsylvania's prisons, favors shorter sentences and community treatment
By Chris Levister
Calif. — In May 2011 when the Supreme Court ruled conditions in California’s overcrowded prisons were so bad that they violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, Pennsylvania’s corrections chief Jerry Beard was on the case, literally.
"He came to California in 2010 to testify on behalf of the plaintiffs in the overcrowding lawsuit," said former, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Matthew Cate.
"In his opinion, it was impossible to run an effective corrections system at 200 percent capacity. He did that without pay, because he really believed California needed relief from overcrowding."
65-year-old Beard who led the Pennsylvania prison system for nearly a decade is Governor Jerry Brown's nominee to become the state’s next corrections and rehabilitations chief.