One solid decade ago, the state prison system was completely overhauled, creating today’s California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

While the department was massively overhauled 10 years ago, improvements continue to be made, with rehabilitation the focus.

“The addition of the word ‘rehabilitation’ to our department’s name was significant. It is not enough to incarcerate; one of our core public safety missions is to give inmates opportunities to live productive, law-abiding lives through programs that better prepare them for their return to our communities. CDCR’s heavy investments in rehabilitation are paying off,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. “We now have a network of reentry hubs, and we are rebuilding our training, education and substance abuse programs to make the ‘R’ in CDCR a reality.”

In 2005, under the Governor’s direction, the department was reorganized and the word “rehabilitation” was added to the name. Some of the main goals included streamlining and “flattening” the department and eliminating duplication and inefficiencies.

“This effort consolidated the operations of the various departments and boards within the former Youth and Adult Correctional Agency (YACA) into the new CDCR,” according to “Successes and Challenges: The CDCR Story,” a department report published in May 2007.

The department also began to work more closely with outside agencies.

“In 2005, the Office of Correctional Safety (OCS) entered a formal agreement with the United States Marshals Service to coordinate statewide fugitive operations. In May 2006, more than 60 OCS agents were deputized as U.S. Marshals,” the report states.

On Jan. 6, 2005, YACA Secretary Roderick Q. Hickman issued a press release laying out the blueprint for the departmental restructuring.

“Most of the system’s ills can be traced to the structure of (YACA),” the press release states. “Currently, YACA, with its many Departments and Boards, is a hodgepodge in terms of organizational design, and is poorly structured.”

In 2004, an Independent Review Panel took a close look at the state correctional system and made 260 recommendations and suggestions.

“A reorganized Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will flatten the organization structure of the youth and adult correctional system, directly connecting the top layer of management with every aspect of the organization’s performance,” the press release states. “It will more clearly define the authority and responsibilities of key managers and will empower them to carryout out their assigned responsibilities. … Finally, it will enable the Secretary to enact meaningful change throughout the entire organization to make it more effective, efficient and accountable. This is an important departure from the past.”

The reorganization’s streamlining efforts meant it would be easier to adopt new policies across the board at all adult and youth institutions.

“No longer will separate state departments (California Department of Corrections and California Youth Authority) work autonomously,” the press release states.

The Governor’s Reorganization Plan (Chapter 10, Statutes of 2005) was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in May 2005, creating the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on July 1, 2005.