California Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate Joins Stanford Criminal Justice Center as Law and Policy Fellow

Cate will collaborate on research regarding California’s Public Safety Realignment Act

Matthew Cate, the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Law and Policy Fellow at the Stanford Criminal Justice Center

Matthew Cate, the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, has joined Stanford Law School as a Law and Policy Fellow with the Stanford Criminal Justice Center (SCJC). The center is renown for its policy work on criminal law and the criminal justice system at the state, local, and federal levels, and has been at the forefront of studying the implementation of California’s Public Safety Realignment Act—which went into effect one year ago this week, and transfers authority for convicted felons from the state prison and parole system to local counties.

“Secretary Cate brings to the Center unmatched experience managing the largest prison system in the country,” said Joan Petersilia, Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law and co-faculty director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center. “He deeply values the role of applied research in criminal justice policymaking, and thus his affiliation with the Center is natural and one we are thrilled to embark upon.”

The Stanford Criminal Justice Center promotes and coordinates the study of criminal law and the criminal justice system, including legal and interdisciplinary research, policy analysis, curriculum development, and preparation of law students for careers in criminal law.

One major goal of the center is to operate as a public service consultant to public officials at all levels of government, and to encourage collaborative criminal justice policy by forging partnerships with government entities in the criminal justice arena that can benefit from social science research to develop empirically-validated, data-driven criminal justice programs and policies.

Center scholarship focuses on the implementation of California’s Public Safety Realignment Act and the parole release process for individuals serving life sentences with the possibility of parole in California.

In his capacity as Corrections Secretary, Cate will be working with the center on its scholarship related to Public Safety Realignment, advising on research and teaching law students. As one of the chief architects of realignment, he is an invaluable resource for the center. In particular, he will serve as the chair of a steering committee being assembled by the center to address key issues facing the front-end of the criminal justice system. Secretary Cate will advise on the composition of the committee, as well as the substantive topics the committee will address through the convening of four full-day executive sessions over the next 18 months. He will chair all of the executive sessions, both shaping the content of the meetings’ agendas and facilitating the meetings’ sessions. At the conclusion of the executive sessions, the center will produce a report summarizing the major front-end issues created by Realignment, identifying policy recommendations, and highlighting best practices among California’s 58 counties to address those issues.

“I am honored to join the center and excited to begin working with staff and students to study the impact of Public Safety Realignment, said Matthew Cate. “By combining the best academic minds at the center with the real-world experience of California’s law enforcement leaders, I believe we will not only identify the most significant challenges faced by front-line law enforcement in the wake of realignment, but also the most promising opportunities and creative solutions. Accordingly, this work will be critical to improving public safety outcomes throughout our state and I look forward to beginning this important project.”

“Because of Matt Cate’s deep legal experience, combined with his comprehensive understanding of policy and empirical evidence and his managerial skills, he has emerged as one of the most respected criminal justice officials in the nation,” noted Robert Weisberg, Edwin E. Huddleson, Jr. Professor of Law and co-faculty director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.

Cate also serves as chairman of both the Board of State and Community Corrections and the Prison Industry Authority. In 2010, Cate was elected regional president of the Association of State Correctional Administrators. Prior to his appointment as secretary, Cate served for four years as the California Inspector General. As inspector general, Cate was responsible for public oversight of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Since 2007, he has also served on the California Rehabilitation Oversight Board and, in that capacity is responsible for reporting to the state legislature on the progress made by the department in fulfilling its obligation to provide effective rehabilitative programs to California’s inmates and parolees.

Prior to becoming California’s Inspector General, Matthew Cate served as a state and local prosecutor. From 1996 to 2004, he held the position of deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice. In that capacity, he supervised a team of trial and appellate prosecutors, managed a criminal trial caseload of political corruption matters, and provided counsel to county grand juries. In 2003, while working on federal fraud and corruption matters, Cate was cross-designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. From 1994 to 1996, Cate was a deputy district attorney for Sacramento County, last serving in a special assignment prosecuting juvenile rape and murder cases. Prior to joining the public sector, Cate worked as a business litigation attorney with the law firm Downey, Brand, Seymour & Rohwer. He has also held several positions as an instructor of legal and law enforcement-related topics, including standards training for peace officers.