Jeanne Woodford

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Jeanne Woodford is the Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus. Previously, she served as the Undersecretary and Director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and Warden of San Quentin State Prison, where she oversaw four executions.[1]


Woodford has more than 30 years’ experience in corrections and law enforcement as an administrator, author, and public speaker. In 2004, she was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Undersecretary of the CDCR, where she oversaw an eight billion dollar budget, brought accountability to the department through data-driven decision-making, and advocated for rehabilitation programs and a sentencing commission for California.[2]

As Director of the California Department of Corrections, Woodford oversaw a budget of six billion dollars and provided leadership for 32 state prisons, 38 conservation camps, more than 185 parole units, and contracts with 50 public or private community-based facilities or centers. She led efforts to increase rehabilitation programs, address overcrowding improve health care and mental health care, expand family visiting programs, and create policies and programs appropriate for women.

She began her career as a California correctional officer in 1978 at San Quentin State Prison. Having risen through the ranks, she was appointed Warden of San Quentin State Prison by Governor Davis in 1999. As the Warden of San Quentin State Prison, Woodford was responsible for 5,800 prisoners, 1,500 staff, and a budget of 110 million dollars.[3] She developed and implemented programs for prisoners including The Success Dorm, the first reentry program in a California prison. She also served as Chief Deputy Warden and Associate Warden at San Quentin State Prison.[4] The New York Times profiled Woodford for her unorthodox approach as warden of San Quentin.[5]

Woodford also served as the Chief Adult Probation Officer for the San Francisco Adult Probation Department and oversaw a budget of 11 million dollars. She retired from this position to work on criminal justice policy and reform.

She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice and teaches in Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program and will be teaching at Hastings Law School.[6] She has served as a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley School of Law, Stanford Law School, Stanford School of Public Policy, Santa Clara School of Law, and various community groups. She has testified before the U.S. Congress and the California Legislature.

Woodford serves on the boards of Walden House[7] and The Prison Industries Authority[8] and has been recognized with Death Penalty Focus’ Mario Cuomo Acts of Courage Award as well as numerous other awards for her work to reform criminal justice in California.


Woodford graduated from Sonoma State University at Rohnert Park, California with a B.A. in Criminal Justice.


  1. ^ Woodford, Jeanne (10/2/2008) "Death Row Realism" [1] Los Angeles Times
  2. ^ Martin, Mark and Pamela Podger (2/20/2004) "[San Quentin's warden to head prison system|San Quentin's warden to head prison system]" [2] San Francisco Chronicle
  3. ^ Doyle, Jim (2/8/2002) "San Quentin warden Jeanne Woodford committed to providing education for inmates" [3] San Francisco Chronicle
  4. ^ Martin, Mark (6/21/2004) "New director of state prisons believes in rehabilitating, not recycling, inmates" [4] San Francisco Chronicle
  5. ^ Sheff, David (3/14/2004) "The Good Jailer" [5] The New York Times
  6. ^ Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice
  7. ^ Walden House Board of Directors
  8. ^ Prison Industry Board of Directors