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2000 Winter Conference Attendees Make Treatment Their Business.

Once again, the American Correctional Association (ACA) broke its Winter Conference attendance record. More than 4,000 corrections professionals from the United States and around the world gathered together in Phoenix for the 2000 Winter Conference, which, for the first time, was co-hosted by the American Correctional Health Services Association (ACHSA). The theme, "Treatment: It's Everybody's Business," encompassed more than 62 workshops, seminars and meetings, and the more than 400 exhibitors showcased a multitude of correctional products and services.

The Opening Session keynote address, delivered by entertainer Tony Orlando, who discussed his previous cocaine addiction and the suicide of his best friend, comedian Freddie Prinze, and stressed the importance of family values, religion and patriotism in making a difference in the corrections arena.

Orlando began his address by recalling his 1973 hit song, "Yellow Ribbon," which was written about an inmate who had completed his sentence and had been released from prison. The inmate contacted his wife and told her that if he was welcome back into the family and she forgave him, to tie a yellow ribbon around a tree so he would know when he came by their house whether to stop or continue on. As the song reveals, his wife did forgive him and when he rode by the house, 100 ribbons were hanging there to welcome him.

According to Orlando, there is no room for denial in society today. Instead, he says, "if you've done something wrong, say you did it so that someone else can learn from it." This is why Orlando went public with his drug problem. Similarly, Orlando stressed that the drug problem in America is everyone's business. "It's everyone's responsibility to recognize the need for compassion for others," he said.

Orlando concluded that the country needs to make it its business to give the corrections field all that it needs to do an effective job. He insisted that if this happens, we will have a better chance to make a real difference in the lives of everyone with whom we come into contact. "ACA is a major way for people to open the door for someone to be able to say, "I'm coming home."

The next day's Annual Luncheon speaker, former First Lady Barbara Bush, addressed a full house, humoring the audience with several stories and observations -- such as the tact that one in eight Americans is governed by a Bush -- and left attendees with the strong message that literacy matters. "If more people in this country could read, write and comprehend, so many of our social problems could be solved," Bush said. She noted that 70 percent of the prison population score in the two lowest literacy levels.

According to Bush, sometimes we think too hard to find answers when they are obvious. "In order to make our country stronger, we need to build stronger families and this begins in our homes and then in our communities," she said. She referred to home as a child's first school and to parents as a child's first teacher. In addition, she suggested that the educational system in America get back to the local level and that citizens get involved in meeting the needs of their communities.

The Barbara Bush Foundation has given more than $6 million to 208 literacy programs throughout the country, some of which has gone to jail and prison programs. "I congratulate you and salute your efforts," Bush said, stressing that if we give the gift of literacy to inmates, we can decrease their chances of re-entering the system.

At the Closing Breakfast, former NFL all-pro football player, Brian Holloway, spoke to attendees about the importance of teamwork and believing in oneself. Now an international motivational speaker and renowned corporate trainer, Holloway also is known for his gregarious manner and his corporate savvy. Holloway used examples from his own experiences -- on the gridiron and off -- to illustrate his motivational and self-improvement techniques.

Despite having a learning disability, Holloway persevered through school and eventually was recruited by many top-notch colleges. "There I was at Stanford University," said Holloway, "selected to go and play with the New England Patriots. I was excited about this, and I wanted to make a good impression because I know when you have learning disabilities, you have to go an extra mile."

Aside from listening to the various speakers at the conference, attendees had the opportunity to network with one another, to develop contacts and share notes. A number of facility tours also were offered during the conference, including the infamous Maricopa County Sheriff's Office's "Tent City." Overall, ACA's first joint conference with ACHSA was a huge success.
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Article Details
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Author:Harry, Jennifer L.
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2000
Previous Article:ELECTION 2000: Candidates for 2000 ACA Elections.
Next Article:ACA and ACHSA Workshops Explore a Variety of Issues.

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