UPDATE: Gov. Rendell comments on the lengthy tenure of outgoing Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard, who started with the department in 1972 when the state had only 8,000 inmates. As Rendell notes, there are now 51,300 (we assume that includes the 2,000 inmates shipped to Michigan and Virginia):
"During his last nine-and-a-half years as secretary, he has worked with the department staff to rebuild a prison system that was devastated by the 1989 Camp Hill prison riots, while improving security at all of our state prisons.
"He changed the system from one that simply warehoused inmates in the early 1970s, to a system that uses evidence-based programs to provide inmates with treatment that aims to change their criminal ways of thinking.
"I have always admired him for his honesty, dedication and candor. He never shied away from sharing his opinions of the issues facing the prison system and how best to fix them," added the Governor. "He did a great job and will be sorely missed."
Prior to the Rendell administration, Beard served as Corrections secretary under Governor Tom Ridge and Governor Mark Schweiker. He oversaw the expansion of the prison system, which added more than 23,250 beds between 1990 and 2007. Most recently, he was charged with supervising the addition of nearly 9,000 beds with the construction of four new state prisons.
During his service, the Department of Corrections' inmate population grew from 8,000 inmates in 1972 to more than 51,300 today. Beard expressed concerns over this increase, which has been driven by the incarceration of less-serious, non-violent offenders. He urged implementation of alternative sentences, treatment courts and other programs that would divert some of these less-serious offenders from expensive and limited prison beds. He also worked to implement State Intermediate Punishment in 2005 and the prison reform legislation of 2008.
The department has become a national leader in the areas of facility security, emergency preparedness, accreditation, inmate assessment and programming, research, program evaluation, mental health care and reentry during his tenure
Then there was one...remaining original Rendell cabinet member.
Jeffrey Beard, who has led the Pennsylvania prison system for nearly a decade is retiring next week after 38 years with the Department of Corrections.
Beard's departure leaves only PennDot secretary Allen Biehler from the original cabinet formed by Rendell when he took office in 2003.
A spokewoman told the Associated Press that Beard is leaving without any immediate plans for his future. Corrections press secretary Sue McNaughton says Beard feels "it's just time." Beard started working for the prison system in 1972.
Beard was first named corrections secretary by Gov. Ridge in 2001. A Rendell spokeswoman says a successor hasn't been named.