California’s top prison official, Roderick Hickman, has already been
confirmed by the Senate for his job, but now he faces an unusual second
confirmation fight, in part because the state’s correctional system was
revamped and he was given a new title. His second go-round before the Senate
is likely to be even more bruising than the first, with prison system
critics who include an angry federal judge, the prison officers’ union and a
state senator on the war path.
The confirmation “is not something I am looking forward to,” Hickman said.
“I do think people are in opposition to me, but I don’t know exactly why,”
although he noted that some in the Capitol were impatient at the pace of
reforms in the troubled prison system. “It (reform) can’t happen from the
time of the reorganization on July 1 to expect that you will have immediate
results in December,” Hickman noted.
Detractors, he added, “are not being real clear as to how massive the
Those detractors include the California Correctional Peace Officers
Association, which represents 30,000 uniformed prison officers. Last year,
the CCPOA remained officially neutral on Hickman. This year, the group
opposes his confirmation, contending that the reorganization did little to
improve the system and that rank-and-file prison guards remain at risk.
Hickman’s chief legislative critic is Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who
heads the Select Committee on California’s Correctional System, which has
been scrutinizing Hickman and the prison system. Romero’s intends to hold
hearings next year and issue a recommendation to the Senate Rules Committee
on Hickman’s confirmation, as well as the confirmation of 18 other top
correctional officials. The latter include Jeanne Woodford, the former
warden of San Quentin and now Hickman’s under secretary.
“His second time around will not be as easy as the first time,” Romero said.
“We are looking at the promises that were made, and whether those promises
were kept. In the first round, he was new. Now, we are going to be judging
him on outcomes, on everything