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Name: Cate, Matthew
Current Position: Former Secretary

After four years at the helm―overseeing a historic downsizing of the prison system―Matthew (Matt) Cate resigned as secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, effective November 11, 2012.

Cate’s tenure was marked by federal involvement in prison operations, massive budget cuts and the shifting of thousands of inmates from state prisons to local jails. The state Legislature, under court orders to relieve overcrowding and with a prison medical system under federal control, passed a realignment plan in 2011 that aims to reduce the state prison population from 140,000 inmate to 110,000 in two years, primarily by shifting criminals to local jails.

Cate earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Linfield College in Oregon and his law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1992. He worked as a business litigation attorney with Downey, Brand, Seymour & Rohwer in Sacramento from 1992 to 1994 before leaving the private sector. From 1994 to 1996, Cate was a deputy district attorney for Sacramento County, where he prosecuted juvenile rape and murder cases.

Cate moved to state government in 1996, where he served as a deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice. 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. He worked in the Department of Justice until 2004, when he was tapped by Governor Schwarzenegger to be inspector general, responsible for public oversight of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

Schwarzenegger appointed Cate, a Republican, department secretary in 2008, and Governor Jerry Brown formally retained him in 2011. After leaving the department, he became executive director of the California State Association of Counties.


Matt Cate, Head of State Prison System, Resigns to Lead County Group (by David Siders, Sacramento Bee)

Cate Appointed (CDCR website)

Matthew Cate Bio (Association of State Correctional Administrators)

Matthew Cate Directs Prison Downsizing (by Jon Ortiz, Sacramento Bee)

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