At the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Lee Seale played a key role in moving offenders from state to county responsibility.
Now he will become responsible for managing those offenders himself as Sacramento County's newest chief probation officer.
His appointment was announced this week by the Sacramento Superior Court, which is responsible for selecting the county's probation officer.
Seale, 41, recently served as state corrections director of internal oversight and research and acting secretary of legislative affairs.
He helped the state department carry out the transfer of responsibility for lower level offenders to counties, a process called realignment that began in 2011.
"Chief Seale has been instrumental in adult realignment legislation, and there is no more critical issue right now before any county probation department than the issues of realignment," Superior Court Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie said in a news release.
The chief probation officer runs the Sacramento County Probation Department, which has about 620 employees and a budget of $115 million.
Seale replaces Don Meyer, who left the job after three years to take a similar job in Los Angeles County.
Seale comes at a critical time for the Probation Department. The switch from state to county responsibility for lower level offenders coming out of prison has forced counties to supervise offenders with longer and more serious criminal histories than the probationers previously under their watch.
The department has faced criticism for underfunding rehabilitation programs that would help break the cycle of crime. Some county supervisors have recently suggested they want to put more funding into such programs.
The Probation Department has staffing problems as well, with consecutive years of budget cuts making it one of the most understaffed departments in the state. The vast majority of its probationers go unsupervised.
Matt Cate, former secretary at state corrections, said Seale is a good choice at this juncture.
"His expertise in applying evidence-based supervision and treatment practices will help improve public-safety outcomes in Sacramento County," Cate said in a written statement.
Before working at corrections, Seale had jobs at the state inspector general's office and the attorney general's office. He is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, School of Law.
Call The Bee's Brad Branan, (916) 321-1065. Follow him on Twitter @ BradB_at_SacBee.