Q&A: Corrections officer says lot has changed in 25 years

A 25-year veteran of Roosevelt County Detention Center will leave work for the last time on July 13.

George Rowan, RCDC booking officer, will retire this month after 25 years with the center, one of the longest stretches in the history of the detention center.

Rowan, who spent his 25 years also working second jobs as a private process server and insurance claims adjuster, decided to share some insight on how the job of corrections officer has changed and how it impacted him.

What led you to the field of corrections officer?

I wouldn't have done that job if it weren't for the economy. That was when all of the car dealerships were shutting down. I worked for a car dealership, which shut down. Another offered me a job, but I didn't take it and later, I was glad because six months later, it shut down. Corrections was a guaranteed job. It was a job you weren't going to be laid off from due to lack of business. Due to the economy, you might not get pay raises, but you still had a job.

What positions did you serve in with corrections and which position, out of all of them, did you prefer?

I was a detention officer, shift officer, supervisor, booking officer. The one I have now as booking officer is the best. I've had that about two and a half years. I don't get in trouble now, because I missed something someone was doing. I tend to be more administrative than security.

How has the field of corrections changed over the years?

When I first started working there, it was like the "Andy Griffith Show." Most of them in there were just a bunch of drunks, so worrying about people escaping wasn't a concern. We would go years without women being in there. The prisoners are a lot tougher now, because the laws are designed to protect them and they know it.

Rules have to be rewritten and renegotiated. The rules have to be altered to keep you away from civil issues now. The rules change, the laws change and the prisoners change.

It's gone the good way, for the most part. Current administration has brought the detention center up-to-date technologically, which is a positive thing for the county.

What is the most important thing you feel you've learned from your 25-year career?

You have to learn to watch your back in the political system (laughs).

You have to watch your surroundings and learn to pay attention, whether it be from lock down to administration to other legal entities.

What was the most rewarding part of your job in corrections?

Sometimes, they don't come back. In the old days, we had more room to guide them, because you didn't get sued for trying to help them. We could give minor advice. It was cool to help them by checking out things for them or calling family for them. Realistically, things we never should have done, but it was OK back then. Civil liability was a lot less back then. Nowadays, it is not your responsibility to counsel them.

What will you do now?

I will probably be working as a bondsman, working mostly the Portales area, bonding people out.

— Compiled by PNT staff writer Alisa Boswell

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