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Professional development: making the vision a reality.

During 1995, we celebrated our 125th anniversary. This occasion gave us a chance to reflect on where the Association has gone since our founding in 1870 and to learn from our past to prepare for the future.

ACA's founders understood the importance of providing development opportunities to its members. At the first Congress of Correction, Enoch Wines, corresponding secretary of the Prison Association of New York. observed, "The students of penitentiary discipline, in this country, have come to substantial agreement on certain fundamental principles ... [One is] that a higher grade of qualification in prison officers is essential to a successful prison administration, is a point conceded by all, and the minds of thoughtful men are turned to the further questions whether they ought not have a special education and training and work."

Principle VII of the Declaration of Principles adopted by the Congress in 1870 states, "Special training, as well as high qualities of head and heart, is required to make a good prison or reformatory officer. Then only will the administration of public punishment become scientific, uniform and successful, when it is raised to the dignity of a profession, and men are specially trained of it, as they are. from other pursuits."

Through the years, ACA has taken its staff development and training mission very seriously. We have continually increased the services we provide our members. The Congress of Correction and Winter Conference continue to grow in size; both offer attendees an opportunity to participate in three days of intensive workshops and focus groups on the most current thinking in the field. Eighteen, 40-hour correspondence courses are now available to correctional professionals to study in their free time on such subjects as correctional management, food services, suicide prevention, stress management and special needs offenders. We also offer award-winning training videos, customized video training packages and lesson plans. We are following the lead of our founders.

Are we doing a good job? We would like to think so. Are we happy to stay where we are? Absolutely not! To ensure the Association's continued development in the years to come, the ACA Delegate Assembly unanimously accepted a set of five vision elements. One element states: "The Association provides quality professional development opportunities for its members." These professional development activities will give members the opportunity to develop their skills, increase their knowledge and enhance their leadership potential.

In October 1995, ACA took the next step in its evolution -- ACA's Training and Contracts Department was renamed the Professional Development Department. Although the new name is refreshing, it is meaningless unless it leads to a major shift in how we do business. The Professional Development Department has taken on the responsibility of coordinating all of the professional development services previously provided through a number of our departments. This department now will be coordinating, among other things, the development of programs for the Congress and Winter Conference meetings; expanding ACA's national leadership training programs through the use of teleconferencing, computer-based modules, and competence and interactive training; and exploring the potential for a professional certification program for correctional managers.

ACA and professional development are on the move. We are excited that we have taken steps to ensure the continued growth of your Association by enhancing and expanding our professional development services.
COPYRIGHT 1996 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:management of correctional institutions
Author:Gondles, James A., Jr.
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Feb 1, 1996
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