Charles L. Ryan, Retrospective Judgments

To define such a phrase as “retrospective judgment” someone could say that this refers to “the application of current standards of morality to past actions, institutions, or persons.” In other words, this is an abbreviated version of “lessons learned” from the past. Applying such views to the method and directives of the current prison director of Arizona prisons, Charles L. Ryan, one can sense resemblances of failed issues of the past creeping into the managerial applications of the present and the future as the prison system is dreadfully inefficient in operation and money spent by taxpayers regarding public safety and control of recidivism and violence.

After several years in office, the director has reached crossroads that can be demonstrated to be weak and ineffective in his management of his 1 billion dollar state agency. Illustrating an eager and most empathetic attitude in the beginning for changes regarding the ways and managing style of his predecessor, he sold his persona as a person for the employees promising to fight privatization and addressing staff assaults with vigor and energy. He promised to alter the course the agency that was facing continuous critical events that included many serious incidents that included untimely and preventable deaths of prisoners, escapes from secure prisons, dreadful mortality rates inside his maximum custody units and other main issues that reflected poor management methods. Today, the prison system is no better off than it was over two years ago when he took over the controls of the bureaucracy. In fact, since his arrival many competent and ethically sound administrators have resigned or retired to avoid the daily contradictory management style exhibited by this man. This mannerism led to early retirements and frequent resignations that pleased him as he would save money not paying out benefits for those retirees or resigned staff. It is with some degree of certainty that this was on his agenda all along as he replaced those who left with incompetent puppets to do his will as was the expansion of privatizing prisons.

Coming on board, he wasted no time to implement stronger tools for use of force continuum with re-activating the K9 extraction dogs and focusing on removing more prisoners to maximum custody to make the open yards safer for staff and other inmates. He promised to be a man’s man for the troops and stand behind them 100 %. This platform of reforms failed miserably and has him on the ropes doing a rope a dope until he can grasp a handle on how to manage the madness not within his grasp of control. Ignoring key elements of hiring poor leaders and inadequate screening of his top echelon advisors, he has fallen short of his merits to change the negativity that existed inside this huge 10,000 employee agency. In fact, his current performance emulates key elements regarding managerial failures of his predecessors. His erred plans created dangerous work conditions inside detention units where prisoners were stacked three sometimes four high with bedding on the floors. His mental health care suffered greatly and medical became a nightmare as there were insufficient resources provided to deliver adequate care. Hep C is out of control and many natural deaths are becoming more frequently ‘Ëœsuspicious” in nature as the numbers are staggering.

Walking down memory lane, his progress is laughable and has no substance in the area of evidence based data showing improvements in prison operations, programming, recidivism, staff retention, violence against staff, escapes and homicides and suicides under his watch. The only successful task he has acquired over the years is to expand the prison system through the use of private prisons and drop the care standards of employees and prisoners to save money. Injured staff has to suffer needlessly to get help from the administration when their injuries are disabling and prevents them from going back to work. On top of the number of staff injured, these officers risk losing their benefits and jobs if they can’t return back to work within six months if they exhaust their sick leave. Risking a 80 % sustained rate on any disciplinary filed, they are more likely to be found guilty than a poor conviction rate of 23 % of those inmates who assault staff adding that 77 % are not charged by the department via the county attorney for reasons related to the budget and investigation improprieties.

Having spend most of my time working for this man and discussing his failures in a blog ‘” I was thinking to myself just how much worse the prison system really was since my appointment to the agency in 2005. In a philosophical way, I came to value judgments that appear to be so retrospective to give me a true picture of where we are and where we have been. This “lessons learned” I think is a catchy phrase that captures my views related to experiences, morality and standards comparisons since this man took over from the last director. Perhaps he won’t share my view of his lack of progress but he could definitely benefit from my ability to go into retrospect and point out to him what he has failed to accomplish as he promised positive change and better morale. When it is all said and done, it is obvious he has no basic understanding of the world around him and finds himself to repeat and replicate his daily basic task to force employees to follow policies and operate within the guidelines provided in writing to those who are unable to grasp the concept to follow his lead. This single imperfection is what drives the chaos inside the prison bureau.

As a blogger, I try to express an idea that has value in a moment or a particular space of time. These expressions are from a perspective from another position that his but at the same time, expressed with values that are most common within a correctional setting and considered to be best practices by many who have worked inside prisons. Whatever he did in the beginning is now obsolete and unrelated to anything he is doing or trying to do because he has not even accomplished his initial promises to make staff safer and reduce assaults or violence. Escapes have multiplied and deaths are rising by the daily count each week. Prison staffs are demoralized and private prisons are growing adding thousands of beds every time he puts out a contract to expand the prison complexes.This man, in the manner he has performed has caused people much distress, pain and sadness. He has communicated no remorse for his failures and continues to blame others for his own shortcomings and failures.