Magazine article Corrections Today

Rep. Kennedy Advocates for Corrections Collaboration

Magazine article Corrections Today

Rep. Kennedy Advocates for Corrections Collaboration

Article excerpt

At ACA's Congress of Correction Plenary Session, Rep. Patrick Kennedy from Rhode Island encouraged corrections professionals to work together to get the message out about their issues and dispel public misconceptions. "It's clear from the turnout here today that you are very much mobilized for action," he said.

Kennedy noted that misconceptions about corrections can hinder dialogue on important issues such as drug and alcohol treatment, domestic violence, health care, and juvenile corrections. "You can't begin to address any of these problems if you're running up against the problem of stigma at the outset," he said.

Kennedy said the stigma inhibits corrections professionals from gaining the respect they deserve and the attention they require in order to affect change. He also said he can relate to the stigma corrections faces because he deals closely with mental health issues, and he joked that he can relate to the perception of corrections as corrupt because he is a politician.

Speaking from his experience in Washington, Kennedy said that if corrections organizes coalitions, "You could have an enormously powerful influence on the shape and direction of legislation that would be coming through committee [in Congress]." He also said that corrections needs to ask for funding. Using drug courts as an example, he said Congress happily gave them $10 million last year because that is all they asked for. This year, they got $40 million. He said the more corrections organizations pull together, the more money they will be able to acquire for programs. …

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