Rachel Rios Named Acting Chief Deputy Secretary for DJJ

Bernard Warner is returning to the state of Washington’s correctional system after leading historic reforms as Chief Deputy Secretary for the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) over the last five years.
“The policies and programs that Bernie Warner has brought to California’s juvenile justice system over the last five years represent a cultural shift in how we treat youthful offenders,” said Matthew L. Cate, Secretary for Corrections and Rehabilitation. “As a result, the environment in our juvenile facilities is safer and more conducive to rehabilitation, which has improved public safety.

“In addition, each youth in our care will soon have an individualized treatment plan tailored to their needs,” said Cate. “Research shows that approach is proven to be the most effective in reducing recidivism at a young age, which is critical to permanently reducing our adult prison population over time. I have appreciated Bernie’s leadership, which has markedly changed our approach to juvenile rehabilitation, as well as the obvious care he has for youth.”
Rachel Rios, a 26-year veteran of the state’s juvenile justice system who currently serves as the Director of Operations was named to replace Warner in an acting capacity, beginning on September 10. Rios has risen through the ranks of DJJ (and the California Youth Authority, as it was previously known) from parole agent, to Facility Assistant Superintendent, Administrator of the Case Services Unit and Director of Parole.

Bernard Warner begins his new job as the Assistant Secretary for Prisons for the Washington State Department of Corrections in October, where he will be responsible for the operations of the state’s 14 adult correctional facilities.
In discussing his impending departure, Warner said he was proud of the progress DJJ staff have made in the Farrell reforms, referring to a six-part legal settlement reached in 2004. “Our facilities are more safe for youth and staff and with the implementation of the Integrated Behavior Treatment Model, we are improving critical rehabilitative services for highest risk/highest need juvenile offenders in California.”
Warner, who has worked in both juvenile and adult corrections for 30 years, was recently honored as “Administrator of the Year” by the nation-wide Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, which he serves as Past-President. He is widely respected for his leadership in implementing system changes that emphasize assessment and interventions based on evidence-based practices.
Over the last five years, he has led the DJJ through implementation of six remedial plans agreed to in a settlement of the Farrell litigation which has improved every aspect of the Division’s operations, including health care, safety and security, accommodations for youth with disabilities and educational achievement. In addition, improvements have been implemented to ensure rehabilitative programming for all youth, including mental health and sex behavior treatment. .
According to the most recent progress report filed this week with the Alameda County Superior Court that oversees the Farrell settlement, DJJ has complied with 85 percent of more than 841 policy and program changes required to improve rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. Those changes have resulted in a decrease in violence in DJJ facilities and a significant increase in academic achievement among DJJ youth.
Since March 2005 when DJJ adopted a remedial plan for education, it has increased the number of youth who have achieved some level of academic performance, including high school diplomas, GED’s and enrollment in college courses by 300 percent, despite a declining population as more youth were committed to county facilities.
In the last year, Warner also supervised the “right-sizing” of DJJ, which aligned the make-up of its professional staff with the treatment needs of its current population and significantly reduced operational costs. The staffing model ensures that DJJ has the appropriate employee classifications to provide treatment and services consistent with the expectations of the Farrell remedial plans.
For more information about the Division of Juvenile Justice, visit its website at: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Juvenile_Justice/index.html