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Corrections Professionals focus on today's hot topics.

MIAMI--Corrections professionals from across the country gathered here in January to discuss today's big issues--"Drugs, Violence and Crime: More Challenges for Corrections" was the three-day meeting's theme.

At Monday's Opening Session, President Perry M. Johnson outlined his vision for ACA's role in affecting sentencing issues. He said that despite members' diverse backgrounds, they all have one thing in common: they all deal with persons serving criminal sentences or juvenile commitments.

Noting that this summer's Congress of Correction will focus on sentencing, Johnson called for a fair and just sentencing policy based on a rational strategy to reduce crime.

"We, better than anyone else, directly see and understand the real effects of criminal sanctions," he said. "We know what these sanctions cost in human and economic terms, and we see firsthand when they fail and when they succeed. If we do not apply our collective wisdom to the shaping of public policy, no one will do it for us.

"Developing a system that says to every convicted criminal, 'you will be punished in a just and reasonable manner without bias,' and then proves it, is hardly soft on crime. And if we combine that with real opportunity for positive change--for self improvement--the public will be well-served."

After Johnson's address, Donald Yeomans, consultant and Professional Awards Committee chairman, presented ACA's Medal of Valor to staff at the Pontiac, Ill., Correctional Center and awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship to Perdita L. Johnson.

At the annual Winter Conference Luncheon on Tuesday, Florida Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay discussed how mandatory sentencing laws in Florida have exacerbated the state's crowding crisis.

"The key to making our system work is that we have to ensure that the (offenders) kept in are the violent and dangerous ones and those let out on controlled release don't pose a risk to society," he said. "That works fine until you try to superimpose mandatory sentences over it. We're now finding that the pool of people available to be released on controlled release is shrinking rapidly.

"We have to find ways to keep people out of prison. We must develop the 'politics of community.' A community is a group of people who are near each other because they want to be close to each other. The politics of the community should be about tearing down walls, not building them."

Following MacKay's address, Yeomans presented the Peter P. Lejins Research Award to Larry Greenfeld.

Also on Tuesday, at the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections' annual luncheon, the CAC awarded accreditation plaques to 116 institutions.

Instead of the traditional closing luncheon, ACA on Wednesday held a closing breakfast. In his address, Commissioner James Osborne, national commander of The Salvation Army, emphasized the importance of spirituality in offender rehabilitation.

"Our commitment is spiritually motivated," he said. "We are interested in the whole person. Our interest is to trigger life-changing experiences."

Throughout the Conference, members toured ACA's Exhibit Hall, which featured more than 500 displays. Tuesday morning's Rise 'n Shine Break helped participants get rejuvenated before heading off for a day of business meetings and workshops. And at the Grand Prize Giveaway later in the day, Christina A. Frank of the Prince William, Va., Division of Community Corrections won a home entertainment center.

Also during the Conference, workshops covering topics such as community programs for inmates, the Americans with Disabilities Act and managing gangs in prison were presented.

Wednesday afternoon, the Delegate Assembly met to discuss Association business, to hear reports from committee liaisons and to review ACA policies and procedures.

Conference Award Winners

Larry Greenfeld, associate director for publications and correctional statistics programs for the Bureau of Justice Statistics received ACA's Peter P. Lejins Award. Greenfeld was recognized for developing a series of statistical research programs that made the Bureau's statistics more timely and comprehensive.

The Pontiac Correctional Center in Pontiac, Ill., was bestowed ACA's 1993 Medal of Valor for its staff members' individual and collective acts of heroism during a fire on July 2, 1991. Leo Meyer, deputy director, Adult Division, accepted the award on behalf of the facility.

Perdita L. Johnson, mid-Atlantic regional affirmative action administrator for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, received ACA's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, annually awarded to corrections professionals working to advance their education.

John J. Vollmann, professor of criminal justice at Metro-Miami Dade Community College, was awarded the American Justice Institute's Richard McGee Award for Contributions to Corrections Research and Education.
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Title Annotation:Miami; includes related article; American Correctional Association's winter conference at Miami, Florida
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:New York State officers quell dorm disturbance.
Next Article:Corrections should take the lead in changing sentencing practices.

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