California prison chief retires amid virus, protest pressure

California

FILE – In this June 6, 2019, file photo, Ralph Diaz, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, answers questions during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. California’s corrections secretary is retiring after two years in a job that Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, said involved “unparalleled challenges” most recently coronavirus outbreaks that swept state prisons and increasing social pressure to ease mass incarceration. Diaz will retire Oct. 1 after 30 years with the department. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s corrections secretary is retiring after two years in a job that Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday said involved unparalleled challenges.

They most recently include coronavirus outbreaks that swept state prisons and led to calls for new leadership amid increasing social pressure to ease mass incarceration. Ralph Diaz will retire Oct. 1 after 30 years with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Newsom named department veteran Kathleen Allison to replace Diaz.

The governor praised Diaz, but lawmakers and advocates have recently been far more critical, particularly after a botched transfer of inmates spread the coronavirus throughout San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco.

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