5 questions for Ross Castleton

graphic_Ross Castleton ID badges

After 24 years with the Idaho Department of Correction, Ross Castleton is retiring as a Deputy Chief in the Idaho Department of Correction’s Division of Prisons.

EDOC asked Ross five questions about his career and what he’ll be doing next.

Q: How did you come to join IDOC?

A: In 1997, I had a friend that worked at PWCC and they were pretty short staffed. He brought in an application to where I worked and wouldn’t leave until I completed the application. He then took it to Job Service and turned it in. I was going to school at ISU full time when I got the offer and I thought it would be a great way to get some benefits for my family until I completed my Social Work degree. I was a C/O for five years and fell in love with what we do. I then worked as a DARS for a few years and really enjoyed doing case management, but really missed security. I jumped back into security as a Lt and that’s when I finished my degree. That allowed me to get the Program Manager position at PWCC. After that I promoted to SAWC as the Warden and loved working with everyone there. A couple of years after that I had the opportunity to come to Boise as the Deputy Chief and we have fallen in love with the area and plan to stay here.

Q: How did the job change you?

A: I think it changed me in a lot of ways. While in many ways it made me a lot more serious, it has also helped me be more compassionate. I am an introvert and working for the department has given me the ability to turn that on and off as needed. It also helps you find the humor in things no one else thinks are funny!

Q: How has IDOC changed during your tenure?

A: We have changed in so many ways. We have really focused on offering more for our residents and ensuring that they are prepared to leave. I remember years ago if someone was topping, the common sentiment was “they got nothing coming”, and that’s pretty much what we offered them. Also, we are so much more focused on staff. The training is unbelievable compared to what we had 25 years ago. When I was placed on a unit for the first time I had never worked a radio. I told this to my Sgt and asked if he could show me how to operate it. His response was, “make sure its on channel 3. Have a good shift”. That was my radio training. We do not do this to our staff today. We make sure everyone is trained and prepared and has the resources needed to do their job. 

Q: What advice do you have for your colleagues?

A: My advice is to go for it. Don’t let opportunities pass you by. Conduct yourself like you are in the next position that you want. If you are a CPL, think like a Sgt. If you are a DW, try to think like a Warden. Conduct yourself with integrity and put yourself in the shoes of those in positions you want to move into. 

Rock the job that you are in and be willing to do the jobs others don’t want to do. Lastly, take care of yourself. Have a hobby or two and have associations with people outside of corrections. It’s a great career, but it can wear you down emotionally. Having associations with non-correctional people allows you to take a break.

Q: What will you be doing next?

A: I will get back into some of the things I used to do before becoming a Warden and Deputy Chief. Fishing, golfing, some woodworking. I may also come back and do some stuff with the department such as delivering groups. We also like to travel and that is how I am kicking off retirement is a little trip to Maui.

I am incredibly proud to have been associated with this department and it has given me unbelievable opportunities. I have nothing but gratitude in my heart. I will miss so many people and that is the downside.

See Ross’s ID badges over the years.


Story published: 11/02/2021
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