Action News Now: Chico State launches leadership institute for state corrections executives

Friday, January 13, 2017

CSU, Chico launches the Executive Leadership Institute in partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation this week.

Chico State has been partnering with the C.D.C.R. for decades.

The courses, developed with the support of Regional & Continuing Education at Chico State, will be taught by nationally recognized faculty experts in corrections from universities across the country.

C.D.C.R. Secretary Scott Kernan said the department is on the cusp of significant criminal justice reform. "Sixty thousand employees and a 11.3 billion dollar budget...and we have not made the investment in our staff we need to, and this is representative of that first step, recognizing the importance of staff and leadership throughout the prison system," said Secretary Kernan.

In the beginning of the first course, current challenges regarding gang and solitary confinement policies were covered. "Its creating that environment that isn't an 'us versus them'...I have to turn their mindset that's not just about incarcerating inmates but about being part of the rehabilitation process," said Secretary Kernan.

The Executive Leadership Institute prepares future leaders for the changes happening to the system now. "We've shifted 40,000 inmates from state prisons to local jurisdictions," Secretary Kernan said. As well as Proposition 57, allowing inmates to receive more 'good conduct' credits while in prison, leading to an increase in released inmates. "Its taking a system that just incarcerates inmates and is investing in trying to make them better when they get out," Secretary Kernan said. "So that's an all hands on deck leadership challenge for everybody to change the culture."

Associate Dean for Regional & Continuing Education at Chico State, Clare Roby, said the leaders are excited to make a difference. "Having the tools they need to make recommendations and implement new processes and procedures and address the real difficult challenges is what the institute is all about," Roby said.

The Institute focuses on taking important steps to invest in upcoming leaders. "When we had a cohort in 1994 of a previous institute, three of them became secretaries eventually," said Stan Stojkovic, curriculum educator and Dean at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "So this is something that has a direct impact on what happens to people and how the Department of Corrections moves." According to Stojkovic, the Institute teaches these leaders in a way that holds each correctional department accountable. "The utility of this is tremendous," Stojkovic said. "It allows people to create projects that are practical, that face real problems, real issues and allows them to express leadership skills and the solution of that problem or addressing that project."

The first institute cohort began on Monday and will end in April. A total of 220 employees will participate in the next 18 months.