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Opportunity, Commitment and Achievement.

For 14 years, the Oklahoma Correctional Association (OCA) has had, according to its motto, "the right focus, the right people, the right organization." With a focus on opportunity, commitment and achievement, a diverse membership and an organized leadership, OCA is the right organization for many corrections professionals in Oklahoma.

OCA offers its members a variety of opportunities to increase their knowledge in corrections and continue their career growth through conferences, publications and scholarships.

These benefits fulfill OCA's mission of providing members with several networking opportunities and educational benefits in all aspects of the criminal justice field. Most recently, OCA held its annual conference in Oklahoma City, Sept. 27-29, the theme of which was, "The Future is Now." Attendees enjoyed exhibits, training and workshops focusing on a wide variety of corrections-related topics due to the collaborative effort of criminal justice agencies in Oklahoma. The conference also received a great amount of vendor support with more than 40 exhibitors.

Founded in 1981 as the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Association (OCJA), this multidisciplinary organization became an affiliate of the American Correctional Association in 1982 to provide dual membership for its constituents. This affiliation enabled OCJA to continue to be an advocate for state and local issues and gain support from a national organization. It also led to a revitalization in 1987 when the organization was renamed the Oklahoma Correctional Association. OCA has approximately 480 members, consisting of corrections professionals, agencies and organizations.

To help members achieve their goals, OCA provides opportunities for scholarship awards. OCA scholarships are presented annually to financially assist individuals who are preparing for or already are attending an accredited college, university or technical school. Five, $500 awards are presented, including the Harjit Sandhu Criminal Justice Scholarship and the Leon Dwight Russell Scholarship. According to OCA's president, Lisa Burlingame, the scholarship program is one of OCA's biggest achievements. "I think it is exceptional for an organization our size," she says. "We try to help our members and this is a great way to do it."

Leadership is another important aspect of OCA. The board has six members -- president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, president-elect and past president. Burlingame believes OCA's leadership, along with its members, is an integral part of OCA's success. "We receive great support from our agency administration," she says. "Many members come from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and the majority of executive staff within the agency are past presidents of OCA, so they have a special place in their hearts for the association. Having the encouragement and support of the uppermost managers is great and a big reason for our success."

OCA plans to continue its mission of opportunity, success and commitment. Future plans may include a regional conference with bordering states, and OCA is in the preliminary planning stages. The current presidents of the associations involved are very interested and are determining what works best for everyone. In addition, a proposal for an additional elected member to the board is pending. The new board member would serve as a delegate-at-large and would be the second representative to the Delegate Assembly. Burlingame says this will enable OCA to become more active and that the board member would serve as a liaison between the program committee and OCA. These possibilities, along with its mission and goals, further enable OCA to have the right people, the right focus and be the right organization.

Elizabeth Klug is assistant editor of Corrections Today.

Vital Statistics

Founded: OCA was founded in 1981 as the Oklahama Criminal Justice Association.

Objectives: OCA's mission is to provide its members with the educational benefits of national and state conferences and workshops as well as exposure to fellowship and networking opportunities with other professionals in all aspects of the criminal justice system.

Leadership: Comprised of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, president-elect and immediate past president.

Membership: The association currently has 480 members.

Publications: OCA publishes a quarterly newsletter, The Communicator.

Conferences: OCA has an annual fall conference.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Oklahoma Correctional Association
Author:Klug, Elizabeth
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U7OK
Date:Dec 1, 2000
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