Beyond the Badge

Undersecretary Macomber reflects on correctional career

In honor of National Correctional Officers Week 2022, Inside CDCR caught up with Undersecretary of Operations Jeff Macomber to discuss his correctional career.

Why did you decide to become a Correctional Officer?

Jeff Macomber wearing jacket and tie
Undersecretary Jeff Macomber

Prior to becoming a Correctional Officer, I had some experience with CDCR. My senior year of college, I interned with the California Youth Authority Parole (precursor to DJJ), which piqued my interest in a potential career as a parole agent.

Before becoming a Correctional Officer, I had the opportunity to work as a student assistant in CDCR’s Victim Services before becoming a Correctional Officer, which allowed me to engage with many prisons and gain a better understanding of the numerous promotional paths CDCR offered.

During my final semester of college, the CO exam became available and I was offered a spot as the first class reporting to Ironwood State Prison six months later. Ultimately, I chose CDCR because of the opportunities to work throughout the state of California, the numerous promotional paths available, and the great staff I had worked with during my time interning and working as a student assistant.

What makes you proud to be a peace officer?

I’m proud of the men and women who dedicate themselves to a career as peace officers are some of the greatest and most devoted staff to work with. It has always been a challenging career but during the pandemic, these peace officers dutifully came to work each and every day. They have always supported each other and the challenges of the pandemic seem to have strengthened that comradery and support. Not only is it inspiring to see the great work staff do on duty, but our peace officers do incredible volunteer work in the community and generously donate to those in need.
The profession has grown over my 29 years in the field from more of a custody and control mentality to a greater focus on rehabilitation for the population. So many staff make a meaningful impact on the incarcerated population’s lives; that makes me proud to be a CDCR Peace Officer.

What advice would you give to a Correctional Officer starting their career?

To develop a well-rounded work experience, take advantage of training and other learning opportunities when they arise. Having that breadth of experience will increase your effectiveness and will open the door to future opportunities. Specifically, work with your supervisor to sit in on classification hearings, disciplinary hearings, inmate advisory council meetings, etc. Seek out diverse work assignments that will allow you to work with diverse populations such as max custody, mental health, and minimum custody.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions to the more senior staff. If you don’t understand something, make sure to ask “why” in order to understand the reasoning behind the decisions and use it to educate your peers and the population.

Working for CDCR can be demanding. Take your accrued time off each and every year and ensure you are spending time with your families. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of employee support resources such as Peer Support, EAP, enrolling in the Savings Plus Program early in your career, as well as other Wellness initiatives offered by CDCR. Take time to engage with the incarcerated population to help them solve problems at a lower level and be a positive role model.

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