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CDCR Secretary James E. Tilton Announces Retirement

Thanks Employees, Governor for Significant Progress on Prison Reform During His Two-Year Tenure Leading California’s Largest Agency

SACRAMENTO – California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Secretary James E. Tilton today announced his plans to retire from state service after more than two years as Secretary of the state’s largest agency. Secretary Tilton assumed the position of acting CDCR Secretary on April 20, 2006, and has guided the 67,000+ employee agency through significant positive changes during his tenure. Secretary Tilton was instrumental in the passage and implementation of Governor Schwarzenegger’s landmark prison reform legislation, AB 900 (Solorio; D-Anaheim), in May of 2007, among numerous other achievements. The Secretary’s retirement is effective May 16, 2008.

“It is very difficult to step down from an agency with so many dedicated staff when so many opportunities to continue to enact positive change remain. However, after consulting with my doctor and my family, I have made the decision to retire and will be doing so with great pride in what we have been able to accomplish,” said Secretary Tilton. “I am retiring with the comfort of knowing that the staff that we have assembled leading this agency will continue to build on the many accomplishments that have been made since the July 1, 2005, reorganization of CDCR. There are many more reforms on the horizon as CDCR staff closes in on the benchmarks of the first phase of AB 900 implementation.”

“I am grateful to Governor Schwarzenegger and thank him for his continued leadership and fortitude in pushing for reforms that when fully implemented will have overhauled our adult and juvenile justice systems,” Tilton added. “His sponsorship of these reforms will provide significant public safety dividends for our communities in the years ahead.”

When Secretary Tilton arrived at CDCR in April 2006, the Department was faced with a high number of key management vacancies, as well as significant vacancy rates for rank and file staff. Prisons were near their peak in overcrowding, and there was not an agreed upon plan for reducing overcrowding. Secretary Tilton’s tenure leading CDCR since that time has been marked by significant progress toward implementing prison reforms, reducing overcrowding, increasing rehabilitative and programming space, hiring correctional officers and other staff, and filling key management vacancies.

“In 2006 our prison system was in danger of running out of capacity,” said Secretary Tilton. “In response we were able to provide a comprehensive plan for addressing our critical needs that culminated in the passage of AB 900. Through our implementation efforts, we will bring both needed capacity and additional services to our adult population.”

Under Secretary Tilton’s leadership, CDCR is on an accelerated track to toward implementing the state’s many ambitious reform proposals. View more information on AB 900 implementation at:


James E. Tilton was named Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on September 13, 2006. Prior to that, he was named as acting secretary by Governor Schwarzenegger on April 20, 2006. He previously had served as a program budget manager for the Department of Finance (DOF) since 2003, responsible for the CDCR, State and Consumer Services Agency, Criminal Justice, Labor and General Government.

He joined the California Department of Corrections (CDC) in 1985, serving as its Deputy Director for Administrative Services until 1998, where he was responsible for peace officer selection, personnel, training, budget, offender information, and environmental health and safety. While at CDC, he served as chair of the Correctional Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (CPOST).

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