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More than 3,000 correctional professionals gathered August 5-10 for the ACA summer conference in Boston. Panel discussions, presentations, and over 100 workshops on facility design, accreditation preparedness, and staff training were featured. Information on the new UN Mandela Rules for the treatment of prisoners was highlighted. In addition, the huge exhibition hall housed over 200 firms and organizations promoting equipment and services from barbed wire, restraining gear and prisoner transportation vans to correction office training systems, new rehabilitation programs and spiritual guidance courses.
In an interview, James A. Gondles, Jr., ACA Executive Director for twenty-six years, mentioned that this year’s conference has paid special attention to issues relating to the mentally ill, restricted housing and long term incarceration. He added, “We are also hearing the national (US) call for prison reform.”
In a follow-up statement, Anthony Annucci, Acting Commissioner, New York Department of Correctional Services, said in a workshop entitled New York’s Historic Solitary Confinement Settlement, “When the complete settlement guidelines are fully operational, it will transform the DOCCS system, making us more humane and [it will] facilitate a safer public since more inmates will leave prison better prepared to live better lives.”
David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and advisor to former US Presidents Reagan, Nixon and Clinton, gave the key note address to a tightly packed audience in the convention center’s ballroom. Mr. Gergen concluded his analysis of the current American political climate by saying, “Your correctional system seems to be out in front already: Crime is down, incarceration is down and recidivism is down, congratulations!”