By John McGreevy, TJJD Communications

Javier Rosales and Juan Quiroga
Juan Quiroga, left, and Javier Rosales

It almost sounds like a Hollywood “buddy movie." Two longtime friends and coworkers with more than 40 years of service to their community. One day, one of them retires. Three months later, he comes back and his partner kept his old seat in the van ready for him the whole time. Okay, comparing it to Hollywood might be a bit of a reach, but the value of good communication and effective teamwork are what TJJD encourages for the youth in our facilities every day. At the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg, there might be no better example of this than their very own Javier Rosales and Juan Quiroga.

Rosales and Quiroga are juvenile corrections officers in the regulation safety unit (RSU) at Evins and they’ve got more than 45 years of service between them.

It's a partnership that has served them and the people at Evins a great deal.

"With the two of them, the job is never finished as they always want to meet higher and higher standards," said Yariel Matute, regional safety manager at Evins. "They pride themselves on their experience, leadership, and the teamwork they display."

Rosales has over 20 years of service at Evins and Quiroga is in his 26th year at the facility. He retired but returned to his position after three months. His reasons for doing so aren’t complicated. “The biggest reason I came back is working with Javier with these kids,” he said. “It means a lot to be able to help some of these kids get a chance to make their lives better.”

They both talk about the satisfaction they get from seeing when a youth is able to learn from their time at Evins. “We’ve been here so long and we’ve seen many youths who’ve been here, that it’s good to see the ones who go on to contribute something to society," Rosales said. “We’ve met so many wonderful people who have worked here. Very good, hard-working people. It’s something I love about this job.”

Javier Rosales and Juan Quiroga
Juan Quiroga, left, and Javier Rosales

Their day on the facility starts at 5 am. “When we come in, the first thing we do is get updates from the late-night staff and find out if there might be something going on with one of the youths that we should know about,” Rosales said. “At 6:30, we escort the staff and the youth from the dorms to the cafeteria. We make sure there are no dysregulated youth. If there are, we talk to them and try to figure out what we can do about their problem. We’ll talk to the case manager and the team leader. If the youth are particularly upset, we take them to the regulation zone where a member of the staff will do various exercises and breathing techniques with the youth. Hopefully, this helps get them calm and gives them the reset they need so they can go back to the dorm.”

Their peers have noticed their consistency and the teamwork they display.  “They show up every single day to work and assist the facility as much as possible,” Matute said. “The members of the staff look up to them and want to be like them.”

While having the respect of your colleagues is rewarding, the work they get to be a part of is what keeps them coming back every day. “We really do try to help the youth,” Rosales said. “We try to help them rehabilitate themselves. We work really hard to ensure the safety of these youth and the staff. Our leadership here help and support us so much and we’re only getting better.”

Quiroga shares the sentiment. “This is my second home,” he said. “Everything I have is because of this job.”

Ask them why they make such a good team and they keep the answers simple. “We communicate,” Rosales said. “We’ve developed a really good chemistry together and we know the other will respond in a situation. I know what he’s going to say.”

“We finish each other’s sentences a lot,” Quiroga said.

This isn’t to suggest that they have an easy time of it at Evins. There’s no shortage of challenges and the tasks they may be called to handle can change every day. Both of them can be relied upon to assist and support in various capacities, Matute said, and this can go a long way toward ensuring the safety of the campus. This might mean responding to security referrals or aiding with movements and managing OIG (Office of the Inspector General) traffic. It’s not often they have a day that could be called “ordinary.”

As with any job, being effective means making sure they take time for themselves so they’ll be sufficiently recharged and at their best. For Quiroga this means hosting barbecues for his family and friends.

For Rosales, it means peace and quiet at home with his family. “I’m a family man,” he said. “A lot of people ask me why I spend so much time at home. Well, I paid for the house, I might as well enjoy it. I enjoy the peace and quiet.” He said it took him many years to develop a balance between his job and his home life.

That’s not to say they don’t like to get out and look around. “We both take little trips, to San Antonio, for example,” Rosales said. In 2019, they went to Disneyworld together with their families. “One day we just said to each other ‘Let’s go to Disneyworld’ and we did. I took my parents and my family and Javier took his family.”

For Rosales, taking trips is something he intends to do more of in the future. “I plan to travel,” he said. “I want to get to know the world.” He says the top of his travel wish list is the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.

Rosales and Quiroga are mindful of the responsibilities of their jobs and Quiroga points out that safety is always the number one priority at Evins, but they sometimes wish the public knew a little more about the work going on at Evins. Being honest and direct with the youth is a big part of that. It’s one of the lessons both of them learned early on.

“Don’t lie to the youth,” Rosales said.” If a youth tells me they need to talk to an administrator, I make sure it happens. The youth see that. It’s all about communication. These kids have had people lie to them their whole lives. We always try to be very respectful and professional in front of the youth. We’re straightforward with them.” 

“I had very little when I was growing up in Mexico. This job changed my entire life,” Quiroga said.