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Calif. Prisons Chief Departs, Oversaw Shift To Smaller System

tomsaint / Flickr
 

tomsaint / Flickr

(AP) - California's corrections chief is stepping down after three years overseeing a prison system that has dramatically shrunk.

Jeffrey Beard has been secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation since December 2012.

Beard said in a letter Thursday that he will leave the post on Jan. 1.

He took over a system that was once the nation's largest but faced a federal court order to reduce overcrowding. The population began dropping in 2011 under a law that sent lower-level offenders from state prisons to county jails.

Thousands more convicts were released after voters last year reduced penalties for some drug and property crimes.

Brown did not immediately appoint a replacement.

Beard previously headed Pennsylvania's prison system from 2001 to 2010.