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Schwarzenegger Names Ex-Guard to Oversee Prisons

The governor-elect's choice to join his Cabinet as head of the state's Youth and Adult Correctional Agency is a Democrat.

November 16, 2003|Joe Mathews | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger added another Democrat to his Cabinet Saturday, nominating a onetime prison guard to be secretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency.

If given the expected confirmation by the state Senate, Roderick Q. Hickman, 47, will join Business, Housing and Transportation Secretary Sunne Wright McPeak as a Democratic secretary of a Cabinet agency. Schwarzenegger's senior advisor, Bonnie Reiss, also is a Democrat.

Schwarzenegger and his aides have sought to emphasize the bipartisan nature of his administration, and his transition team features prominent Democrats, including the mayors of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Even his inaugural speech is a bipartisan affair, with aides indicating that it was being drafted by, among others, former Reagan speechwriter Landon Parvin and longtime Democratic operative Bob Shrum, who is close to Schwarzenegger's uncle-in-law, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass).

But Hickman stands out among Democrats tapped by Schwarzenegger in that he served in the Davis administration, most recently as chief deputy director for field operations at the Department of Corrections. Hickman began his career 25 years ago as a correctional officer at the California Institution for Men.

As a prison guard, he was a member of the politically powerful California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. He worked his way up, serving as a trainer of officers, a lieutenant at Calipatria prison and as a captain and administrator at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. There, Hickman and a colleague earned a commendation for negotiating an end to a situation in which an inmate attempted to hold seven people hostage.

He attended five university campuses, including USC and UC Berkeley, but does not hold a college degree, according to the governor-elect's office.

In the Davis administration, Hickman also was warden of the Mule Creek State Prison.

As secretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, Hickman would supervise the board and Department of Corrections, authorities for youth and narcotic addict evaluation, and the boards of prison terms and youthful offender parole.

Hickman did not return a phone message left at his Sacramento home Saturday.

"I am honored to serve in this important capacity," Hickman said in a statement released by Schwarzenegger's office.

"I look forward to using my experience and knowledge of California's correctional system to maintain efficient facilities and help keep our state safe from criminals."

Schwarzenegger called Hickman "a leader in his field" who "will be a key figure in ensuring the smooth operation of our prison facilities and the successful parole of inmates from California's correctional system."

Transition officials had considered retaining the current secretary, Robert Presley, but decided to select a younger leader from within the department who had worked extensively in prisons.

Hickman's boss, Corrections Director Edward S. Alameida, has been the subject of an inquiry into the cover-up of guard misconduct at Pelican Bay State Prison.

John Hagar, the court-appointed special master looking into the matter, said Saturday that Hickman's appointment by Schwarzenegger "is a very positive development in that Mr. Hickman has in the past appeared to be very concerned about correcting any constitutional problems identified by the federal court."

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