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A tribute to correctional employees.

ACA proudly salutes the courageous deeds and spirited efforts of all correctional employees as they confront the enormous challenges facing correctional systems throughout America and in other nations.

All of us want to have our contributions recognized and respected. It is not what motivates us to do good things or what sustains our drive; however it does reflect a basic need that is important to us. If it is true, as the late Andy Warhol suggested, that "in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes," then I believe it is time for corrections professionals to take a bow for their hard work.

Part of ACA's agenda is to ensure that employees who meet the everyday challenges facing corrections don't go unnoticed. Some are honored with our E.R. Cass, Martin Luther King Jr., Medal of Valor and Peter P. Lejins awards. But we want to do more. We want to let our peers and colleagues know that the work of staff at every rank or position is appreciated.

Equally important, we want to show each member of the Association that, as professionals, we should acknowledge the accomplishments of our colleagues, regardless of their professional discipline within the corrections family.

As a leader representing all facets of corrections, ACA has taken a step forward to advance these goals by establishing and proclaiming the first week of August of every year as National Correctional Employees Week.

It is no accident that this recognition coincides with our annual Congress of Correction. After all, this event symbolizes the broadest and most appropriate forum for discussion and actions by corrections practitioners. Still, there are other important reasons why this is clearly an opportunity for some long overdue recognition.

Many of us know that our nation's history has been characterized by the need to elevate the status of individuals or groups whose contributions go underrecognized. In doing this, we sometimes forget others whose roles and contributions are also crucial. For example, only when American citizens learned to acknowledge the valuable wartime contributions of women, medical staff and support personnel serving in the military did this nation start to fully appreciate their roles on the front line and behind the scenes. I believe corrections is on a course running parallel to this analogy.

National Correctional Employees Week is an opportunity for ACA and other organizations to deliver a message to the world that we value and appreciate all professional employees committed to fulfilling corrections' mission. We must recognize not only the backbone of corrections - its officers - but its lifeblood as well. Without classification staff, juvenile careworkers, psychologists, doctors, nurses, counselors, food service workers, program staff, maintenance workers, teachers, administrative staff and many others, our facilities could not operate each day. In addition, it would be impossible for accreditation, direct supervision, community corrections, specialized training and other modern corrections concepts to exist without their contributions.

Appreciating the need to respect the contributions of other dedicated professionals working to fulfill the demands of corrections' mission has never been more important. On the most human level, these individuals all have families and loved ones who care if they come home every day and who cope with the personal sacrifices of weekend or holiday scheduling.

ACA's goal to recognize the more than I million employees working in corrections during National Correctional Employees Week is well-meaning. However, without a plan or the passion of other professionals committed to taking action, it will remain a dream.

I urge each member to get involved and participate in this occasion, particularly those in decision-making roles. Whether you plant a tree in remembrance of a fallen correctional employee, issue resolutions and proclamations, or initiate a host of other activities during this observance, do your part. Join us in celebrating you. And take a bow for a phenomenal job well-done.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Gondles, James A., Jr.
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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