LEADERS IN THE PRISON SERVICE: A PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE

I have had that rare opportunity to have worked very close to a number of appointed prison administrators—as a matter of fact, on all of them— in the Bureau of Corrections for the last 35 years.  I started work as Guidance Psychologist when the agency’s name was still Bureau of Prisons.  When it was changed in 1987 to Bureau of Corrections, I was a Division Chief.  A few years later, I would be promoted to become a senior prison official as Penal Superintendent IV—-the highest ranking in the hierarchy of prison security.  And I would be a regular fixture in the office of the Prison Director.

*****

Since I was a newbie psychologist during my first year in the service, I was already pushed to assist in the office of the Director and from there, it would be a routine for me as a staffer as prison administrators would come and go.  I have that extraordinary exposure to see up close how prison leaders work, their individual world view, their personal preferences, their orientation, their biases, their manners, their weaknesses.

*****

All the prison directors I have worked with were competent leaders in their respective special concerns before they retired and appointed at the helm of the prison service.  It is only but natural that they would bring in and introduce their orientation in a field almost outside of their chosen profession or vocation.  Almost all of these appointees came from the uniform service.  They have struggled to reach the apex of their career until retirement beckons.  From there, they will again be reconnected to another challenge.  From there they will have to make adjustments if not some changes and reinventions as far as their prejudices and preconceptions are concerned.

*****

Most prison directors are icons of commitment and meaningful leaders except for a few who acted as comic relief in a dreary and lonely field like Corrections.  Most made their mark as adept disciplinarians, skilled scholars, proficient managers and competent administrators.  Most of them wanted to make prison service a swan song for their long career in government.  Some made it with flying colors, others simply faded away.

*****

For those who made a dent, an impression and a wholesome mark in the field of corrections, they have earned a historical place not only in a pillar of criminal justice administration but in the heart of the prison community.  They are only a handful though.  There is Raval, Goyena, Vinarao, Diokno and Pangilinan.  Their respective administration comprised the milestone of anything positive that can be expressed in the corrective service.  All of them gave their best, offered their finest hour, and tendered paramount concern in the service of the incarcerated humanity.  To build a monument for them is an understatement.

*****

Director Gaudencio S. Pangilinan, the recent appointee, (although he filed an indefinite leave to allow inquiries on the way his agency functions) deserves special mention in this category.  He may have accumulated only a few months, a full year actually, but his work ethics were such that he never wasted a single minute attending to the requirements of the prison service.  He was virtually present the whole time.  He was everywhere, in all corners of the prison community and his accomplishments for the period were so monumental that it could even exceed all the combined performances of all his predecessors.  He reformulated a working outline—he calls it the roadmap—and from there charted to improve the entire correctional service in the country.  And like his appointing authority, the President, and on a personal note, he was darn honest and incorruptible.  The warrior in him—remember that he is a combat general—made him single minded in winning against all odds.  This quality easily could make him the best prison director ever.

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About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on August 20, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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  3. absolutely right sir! i salute u! i also appreciate how some directors worked here in bucor especially dir. pangilinan! i believe in his capabilities that he can help us to make bucor be a better one..it always starts to a good leader then it follows… he is an inspiration for me coz i know he loved bucor too..thanks!

    Like

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