By Aziza Jackson
NEW ORLEANS — The American Correctional Association (ACA) recently wrapped up its 2019 Winter Conference at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
The ACA is a private, nonprofit, non-governmental trade association and accrediting body for the corrections industry, the oldest and largest such association in the world.
ACA’s annual Congress of Correction and Winter Conference are the two of the most attended events in the corrections industry. ACA’s Winter Conference, held from Jan. 11 to Jan. 15, provided attendees and exhibitors with an opportunity to personally interact with thousands of corrections professionals across the country. The conference included hundreds of workshops, meetings and events that allowed attendees to educate themselves and network.
Correctional News was one of over 200 exhibitors from across the corrections industry showcasing products and services in the convention center’s Exhibit Hall H. The expansive exhibit hall allowed attendees to interact and interface with a wide selection of first-time and returning vendors.
“As a first-time exhibitor at the ACA conference, I found it to be an excellent opportunity to meet correctional industry leaders, decision makers and influencers. I would recommend this convention to any vendor that wants to be seen and make high-level contact in thecorrections industry,” said Jesse C. Gonzalez, senior tactical operations advisor at KrausKo Tactical.
The Wisconsin-based company attracted a large crowd with its demonstration of the Robo Aggressor, originally made in Racine, Wisc. The Robo Aggressor is fully mobile and interacted with ACA conference attendees in the exhibit hall, to demonstrate how it can be used in non-lethal tactical scenarios, at full speed and in real time.
Conference attendees also had the opportunity to attend a number of workshops across a broad range of areas that included: ACA resources, healthcare, juveniles, security, staff training, facility design, jails, re-entry, special offenders, and sustainable/green.
One workshop called “New York State’s Second Chances Program with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation” included a presentation of an in-depth case study of the Wallkill Second Chances Program. The session provided conference attendees with the history, implementation, and outcomes of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) Second Chances Program at Wallkill along with an overview of the national footprint of TRF’s Second Chances Program.
The presentation included an introduction to the TRF program framework for new facilities that wish to consider adopting the program within their own vocational curriculum. An “Expression of Interest” form was available for conference attendees representing correctional facilities interested in exploring a new partnership with the TRF.
“Attending the ACA Winter Conference was an extraordinary opportunity for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation,” said TRF Director Kim Weir. “For 35 years our nonprofit organization has been partnering with correctional facilities to deliver the TRF Second Chances Program to save horses and save lives. As a result of the ACA conference, we have reached a national audience of the corrections industry leadership and started several new conversations which may lead to expansion beyond our seven current programs in New York, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois and Florida.”
Attendees also had the opportunity to work towards professional certification and to learn information that would help them in their daily professional lives. The Commission on Accreditation also held panel hearings and awards accreditation to various correctional facilities during the conference.
Correctional News will provide a detailed report on the event in an upcoming print issue, so please stay tuned for more.