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Criminal Justice Conversations with David Onek: Matthew Cate, CDCR Secretary

Matthew Cate
Matthew Cate

In Episode #3, Matthew Cate, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, discusses the Department’s new parole policies, the importance of research in guiding policy decisions, his prior work as Inspector General of the agency he now leads, his advice for the next Governor on California corrections, and more.

Cate Interview Highlights

Cate on the California Juvenile Justice System:

"It is a good thing that we are reducing the population of wards at the state level. The truth is that best correctional science says we need to keep those wards as close to their families and communities as we can, and reserve state wardship only for those youth who are really the most troubled."

Cate on Partnering with Academics:

"[Partnering with academics] has been just absolutely vital. Otherwise you are just making policy decisions based on either politics or based on your gut sense of what works and I think that is how California got in this spot... The simple fact is that our population has mushroomed and in large part that is because we have lacked research as to who we should be afraid of versus who we really are just mad at."

Cate on Advice to the Next Governor:

"Do not micro-manage the Department from the Governor's office... You really have to stick to your guns and let correctional professionals run the Department of Corrections."


The Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast with David Onek features in-depth, thirty-minute interviews with a wide range of criminal justice leaders: law enforcement officials, policymakers, advocates, service providers, academics and others.

The Podcast gets behind the sound bites that far too often dominate the public dialogue about criminal justice, to have detailed, nuanced conversations about criminal justice policy.

Podcast host David Onek is a Senior Fellow at Berkeley Law School and a former Commissioner on the San Francisco Police Commission.

You can find more information on the Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast and listen to all past episodes on the Podcast web site.

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