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A Network of Similarities and Differences.

What do age, gender, degree of offense, health care and work stress have in common? Each must be dealt with on a daily basis by correctional administartors. However, each administrator deals with these issues differently due to the wide range of correctional systems across the United States. Whether one works with juveniles or adults, females or males, in a maximum or minimum security facility, prison administrators share the common bond of working in a risk management environment and dealing with many similar situations. The Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) brings administrators together and gives them the opportunity to discuss their day-to-day problems and accomplishments, exchange ideas and gain information from their colleagues, no matter how different or similar their systems are.

"ASCA is a collaborative association of people who generally are in the same fix," says ASCA President Joseph Lehman. "Every member runs a large, complex organization that involves risk management in both institutional and community environments and each is faced with controversy and challenges. Every one of us brings something different to the organization and each person benefits from the opportunity of hearing what problems exist and how other organizations handle them."

Established in 1970, ASCA was created to help correctional administrators grow professionally and gain a sense of support by sharing their experiences, ideas and knowledge. ASCA makes this possible through professional development seminars, which are coordinated by executive director George Camp. A variety of seminars are held throughout the year including an annual all-directors' training session. In addition, ASCA has two business meetings a year that are held in conjunction with the American Correctional Association's conferences.

According to Lehman, these meetings "give correctional administrators the opportunity to engage in dialogue about what's working, what isn't working, what problems are surfacing and finding solutions. A majority of the work for conferences is done by a series of volunteer committees for which chairs are appointed by the president. There are approximately 12, 10 to 18-member committees, each tackling critical operational or emerging issues the association wants to address. The committees include the Difficult-to-Manage Inmate Committee, Juvenile and Designated Youthful Adult Offenders Committee, Native American Issues Committee, Policy and Resolutions Committee, and Legislative and Legal Issues Committee. "Our committee members are very dedicated and volunteer their time based on their specific interests and expertise," says Lehman.

ASCA's most recent project involves reviewing correctional industries' performance measures. For several years, ASCA members have been focusing on how these measures are defined and how each system uses them. ASCA recently passed a resolution to identify and create a concise definition of performance measures to improve correctional services and practices. According to Lehman, the committee hopes to assess and define what correctional industries do, create solutions for problems and work together.

Lehman notes that the similarities and differences each member brings to ASCA makes it the unique and beneficial organization it is. "To know what different practices exist and what different strategies people are taking with offenders is essential for the corrections field. One will learn things from colleagues and then teach other colleagues. The value of ASCA is that opportunity -- that networking -- and the lessons learned from it."

Elizabeth Klug is assistant editor of Corrections Today.

Vital Statistics

* Founded: ASCA was founded in 1970.

* Objectives: ASCA promotes and facilitates the exchange of ideas and philosophies of correctional planning and policy-making; the advancement of correctional techniques; public support and an understanding of the criminal justice system; research in correctional practices, anti-social behavior and causes of crime and delinquency; the development and application of correctional standards and accreditation; and the exchange of information with international agencies and organizations interested in correctional programming.

* Leadership: Comprised of an executive director, president, vice president, treasurer and representatives from four regions.

* Membership: Approximately 54 members. (ASCA membership is limited to main administrators of state, federal and territorial departments of correction.)

* Publications: ASCA publishes a monthly newsletter.

* Conferences: ASCA has semiannual membership meetings, a variety of professional development seminars for its members, professional development seminars for newly appointed correctional administrators and an annual training program for all members.
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Article Details
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Author:Klug, Elizabeth
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2000
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