Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown taps corrections official to run California prisons

Scott Kernan, undersecretary for operations of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, has been appointed to run the department.
Scott Kernan, undersecretary for operations of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, has been appointed to run the department. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed a high-ranking corrections official to run the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The governor’s pick for the post, 55-year-old Undersecretary for Operations Scott Kernan, will need to be confirmed by the state Senate. The position overseeing California’s vast prison system would pay Kernan, a Republican, $243,360.

If he is confirmed, Kernan would take over the department after a tumultuous multiyear stretch that featured a series of inmate hunger strikes spurred by solitary confinement practices, excessive force litigation and a federal order to reduce California’s prison population. The state announced this year that it had fallen to less than a court-ordered population cap ahead of schedule. A lacerating report released this month by the state Office of the Inspector General alleged systemic abuse and mismanagement at a remote state prison.

Kernan’s appointment caps a 30-year corrections career that included posts as warden of Mule Creek State Prison and California State Prison, Sacramento. He was appointed to his current job in March 2015, rejoining CDCR’s leadership ranks after he had stepped away from the state workforce to run a consulting company from 2011-15. As a full-time employee, he cannot continue drawing the pension payments he had been receiving after leaving the department.

Outgoing secretary Jeffrey Beard announced his resignation, effective Friday, earlier this year.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert. Jon Ortiz of the Bee Capitol Bureau contributed reporting.

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