Retired Correctional Officer
PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ
What was your role in the BOP (Federal Bureau of Prisons)? Out of my 33 years, I was a unit manager for 18 years. I started with a prison in Mississippi, then Florida, and traveled to a few states, holding a number of potions such as assistant warden. But when they opened Coleman in 1995, I came back to Florida.
What was the highlight of working within the BOP? My favorite part about my job as a supervisor was being able to mentor other staff members—actually I have two favorite parts—and to see an inmate actually rehabilitate.
What do you leave behind? Well, in the bureau prisons we developed a program for low functioning inmates called SKILLS residential treatment program, and it’s been running for about 10 years. I was a part of the initial staff of the program and was the unit manager. These inmates are usually isolated 24/7, but [with this program] they are placed with an inmate who will teach them a job. There was one particular inmate that was low functioning and had severe mental problems; I was his unit manager for about seven or eight years. He was able to complete the program, be released to a residential center in Washington D.C., and get a job. I still check up on him and he’s doing nicely.
Is there an accomplishment you are most proud of? Out of the 20 years I was at Coleman, I received Supervisor of The Year four times. Which is a big deal because we have a lot of supervisors out there. And 30 of the 32 secretaries I had [when I was a] supervisor were promoted under me. I was able to help them and push them to move up.
How did you get into the corrections field? My degree was in education, so initially I wanted to teach. But I could make more money working at a correctional facility than being a teacher, which is a bit backwards and here’s why: I think teachers should be paid more than we get paid, because if they were, there would be less inmates in the correctional facility for us to work with.
How did you utilize your educational background in corrections? I found plenty of opportunities to use my education degree, from the time I was an officer and all the way up the ranks. I was able to use that knowledge at every position throughout my career.
Favorite book? “Death at Midnight” by Donald A. Cabana. It was a fictitious book about the prison in Mississippi. The warden wrote it, and I was the inspiration for one of the characters. I was the lieutenant for death row.
What’s next? I’ll be starting next month with correctional management group—I’ll be doing come consulting. I’m excited about a new phase in my career. I retired from the corrections facility in January, and I’ll be working with one of my former wardens and mentor Carlyle Holder; he’s the CEO.