Becoming a Model Warden: Striving for Excellence.

Author:Pontesso, Stephen
Position:Book Review

Becoming a Model Warden: Striving for Excellence, by Clemens Bartollas, Ph.D., American Correctional Association, 2004, 198 pp.

The content of Becoming a Model Warden: Striving for Excellence boils down to a tribute to the brilliant and effective management style of Frank Wood, the former warden of two prisons in Minnesota and later the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections. A chapter contributed by professor David Ward of the University of Minnesota, "Reform in Minnesota Prisons: Management Trumps Architecture," is a great addition to the book and bolsters Wood's reputation as the savior of corrections in Minnesota.

Author Clemens Bartollas gives a well-rounded discussion of how to be a modern, effective (he calls it "proactive") warden. The book is a quick read (10 chapters, 169 pages), and at the end of each chapter is a helpful summary. It begins with a discussion of three old-timers, legendary wardens of the past who were autocratic: Lewis E. Lawes, warden of Sing Sing in New York; Clinton Duffey, warden of San Quentin in California; and Joseph Ragen, warden of Stateville and Joliet, both in Illinois.

Although wardens of today cannot function as autocrats because of oversight from federal courts, establishment of bureaucratic hierarchies and political interference, it is Bartollas' premise that these three wardens were successful because of what they had in common with the modern proactive warden. Bartollas lists a number of areas of commonality in management strategy, including being anticipatory and preventive, maintaining good communication with inmates and cleanliness.

Almost every page contains boxed quotes of interviews with corrections professionals that support the accompanying text. This use of supporting testimony contributes greatly to the enjoyment and application of the material presented. It also enhances easy reading--if you have worked in the field--since most comments are from familiar names. The inclusion of these interviews and observations...

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