Louisiana Correctional Association: Providing Membership Value

By Whittaker, Angela M. | Corrections Today, March-April 2016 | Go to article overview

Louisiana Correctional Association: Providing Membership Value


Whittaker, Angela M., Corrections Today


The Louisiana Correctional Association (LCA) is a dual-chapter affiliate of the American Correctional Association, meaning ACA members whose home base is in Louisiana are automatically members of LCA. The chapter received the Blanche L. La Du Award at ACA's 145th Congress of Correction in Indianapolis for having the highest percentage of membership growth over the past year. The LCA Board of Directors believes that growing membership has dual benefits: offering professional development opportunities to individuals who have committed to a career in corrections, and building upon the professionalism of corrections as a whole in the criminal justice paradigm.

LCA has successfully grown membership by focusing on providing it value. It started with a commitment to build better communication with its members through the ongoing development of an association website and creating a membership newsletter. It set up a means to support staff seeking to participate in job-related training opportunities through the availability of an application process for training scholarships. The Board of Directors also offers members an opportunity to get involved in community service through the Kits for Kids program, which distributes school supply kits to children of the incarcerated through correctional facilities' visiting rooms prior to the start of the school year. The board additionally developed an opportunity to recognize staff who excel through the Richard L. Stalder Responsibility for Results --Not Excuses Award. However, the most significant impact on membership numbers has been the annual LCA Membership Conference, which is held each fall.

In 2010, LCA reorganized, and formally finalized in 2011, a set of bylaws that outlined a requirement for an annual membership meeting. The first of these annual meetings, soon to evolve into a conference, was a one-day event consisting of a morning business meeting and an afternoon training session. The training session provided an overview of corrections by LCA Deputy Secretary Genie Powers; an overview of the Prison Rape Elimination Act by Ben Shelor, then ACA deputy director of standards and accreditation; and a closing panel session made up of Louisiana's own leaders, who volunteered to answer member questions about current issues and their career experiences. The meeting was a success and left members wanting more, but it also taught the board that members were not fully informed about their membership and how they had come to be members.

The board walked away with a challenge to better communicate with members.

In 2013, LCA collaborated with the Correctional Education Association to cohost its annual meeting and offered a correctional officer/employee training track as part of a two-day event. The board reached out to members to encourage them to present on topics of relevance to corrections professionals and encouraged participation in general. The board also began to market this opportunity to certified corrections professionals as a means for obtaining the needed continuing education credits. The training opportunity sponsored at this meeting included a presentation on leadership by Dr. Mitch Javidi from the International Academy of Public Safety. The turnout for this second annual event increased notably and, as cohost, the LCA board earned a small profit from this event, both factors that initiated a discussion for investing in a conference especially for LCA members.

The first annual LCA Membership Conference was held in Marksville, La., in October 2014. The conference offered a Monday morning golf tournament for early arrivals before the afternoon opening session and first track of training classes. …

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