Former Director ‘Cal’ Terhune passes away

Director Terhune wearing glasses and a tie.
Director Cal Terhune, taken during his retirement gathering in 2000.

Terhune went from intern in paroles to department head

Former department Director CA “Cal” Terhune passed away July 31, 2015, according to CDCR officials. He was 86.

Terhune served as director of the department from August 1997 until November 2000, coming out of retirement to assume the duties. He had decades of state service to his name, having started in 1955.

When 71-year-old Terhune retired for the last time in 2000, then-Governor Gray Davis praised his years of service.

“Cal Terhune is a dedicated public servant who has tackled a tough assignment for two administrations,” Gov. Davis said. “He has shown leadership, integrity and a true commitment to public service.”

Terhune previously served as deputy secretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency in 1991 and as director of the California Youth Authority from 1987 to 1991.

From 1991 to 1994, he was as a corrections consultant on a study of incarcerated juveniles, which was presented to the U.S. Senate.

Terhune named Director in 1997

A 1997 issue of Correction News describes Terhune’s varied correctional experience. He served as deputy secretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, deputy director and director of the California Youth Authority, superintendent of four different institutions, deputy director of the Parole and Institutions Camps, assistant superintendent, supervising social worker, assistant to the chief, budget officer, personnel officer and parole agent. He got his start as an intern in the parole division.

“Terhune knows California’s correctional system inside and out,” Gov. Pete Wilson said in a press statement in 1997, regarding Terhune’s appointment to head the state prison system. “He has devoted his career to protecting public safety and improving our correctional system.”

No stranger to public service, he was serving as the mayor of Ione at the time.

CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard said Terhune was well respected.

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of ‘Cal’ Terhune,” he said. “He was a widely respected leader of our department during a time of many challenges. I join the staff and retirees of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in sending condolences to Cal’s family and friends.”

In 2000, the Los Angeles Times wrote, “During his tenure, Terhune was credited with reorganizing and strengthening the prison system’s internal investigation operation and rewriting its policy on the use of deadly force. He said he is also proud of extending the training (for correctional officers), a move he believes will increase the professionalism of prison staff.”

Legacy of public service

Terhune also served as chairman of the Conference of Amador County Mayors and was a commissioner of the County Transportation Commission. He was elected to the Board of Delegates for the American Correctional Association, serving from 1988 to 1991.

He served on numerous boards and commissions including the:

  • Amador County Juvenile Justice Commission
  • Comanche Lake Park Board
  • Amador Transportation Board
  • Governor’s Policy Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse
  • California Council on Criminal Justice
  • California State Juvenile Officers Association Board of Directors
  • State Board of Corrections
  • Parole and Correctional Association
  • National Association of Training School and Juvenile Agencies
  • Blue Ribbon Commission on Inmate Population.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

Read more tributes to staff and retirees who have passed away.

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