SPOTLIGHT – Presidential Outlook


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The American Correctional Association’s 136th Congress of Correction descended on Charlotte, N.C., in August marking the end of Gwendolyn C. Chunn’s tenure as president, and the beginning of Iowa prison chief Gary Maynard’s term.

Maynard discussed his goals and other correctional industry issues with Correctional News during his first interview as president-elect at the ACA conference, days before he took office.

CN: Do you have any specific goals that you would like to accomplish during your presidency?

GM: There are a lot of emerging issues right now. Re-entry is a big issue in corrections nationwide. Evidence-based practices are getting popular in corrections and could be pushed from an ACA standpoint. There is also accreditation and getting more jails and prisons involved with that.

We need to work on the public’s perception of corrections. We have had several successes, but if you have one failure, that sticks with peoples’ minds. We can improve their perception and make it more accurate. We need to communicate better locally and nationally.

CN: Has the correctional industry done an OK job defining itself for the public?

GM: No, I think we could do better. We progressively continue to be better at what we do in terms of operations. The areas of public relations and communications are ones that we have to continue to work on because we are not yet where we need to be.

When you walk down the street and ask anybody about corrections, they have an opinion. They don’t have any facts, but they have an opinion because they know somebody or saw something on TV.

CN: What is spurring the re-entry movement that you mentioned earlier, which was also a topic at the ACA convention?

GM: Re-entry is not a new thing. I’ve been in corrections for 32 years and my first job was at an inmate work release center. We were concerned about training and assessment, getting them a job and a place to live. It’s nothing new.

The reason there’s emphasis now is we are holding ourselves more accountable with evidence-based practices and results orientation with drug treatment, religious services and other programs.

It’s all based on people who come back. People who re-offend cost all of us. It’s a monetary cost, it’s a loss to the family, and a new victim is created. What we should focus on ultimately is reducing the number of victims. When we have somebody that victimizes a person and we put him or her in prison and they get back out and reoffend, they create another victim. If we do something to cause them not to reoffend, we save another person from being victimized. Re-entry has the focus of holding people more accountable and making them more successful.

CN: Do you think there are areas where ACA could improve?

GM: Yes. I’m going to try to increase our membership, not for a monetary reason, but for the fact that it made a difference when I joined ACA 32 years ago in my appreciation of the professionalism of corrections. It helped me in my career all the way through until this day. N

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