The program, a visionary initiative of the leadership of the American Jail Association, which invited the Correctional Management Institute to serve as a collaborative partner in the development and delivery of the NJLCA, was created in 2009 to train middle managers at jails across the country in an effort to provide succession planning for future leaders. Class #25, consisting of 37 managers from facilities in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Colorado, graduated from the six-day program on June 16.
The 1,000th graduate was Jesus “Manny” Estrada, director of Corrections Health Services for Jackson Health Services in Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department.
“We are training the next generation of leaders in the industry,” said Robert J. Kasabian, Executive Director of the AJA. “It has been tremendously successful not only for the students but for the industry. This is a profession and not a job. It adds to the professionalism and makes the whole system better.”
Lt. James Stephenson of the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office said the program was a “transforming” week of education, leadership and professional reflection. For many, the best part of the week was interacting with peers from across the country who face the same challenges in their local jails and develop diverse solutions to their problems.
“I think this class focused specifically on the key issues we are suffering,” said Class President Captain Christopher Hayes of Western Virginia Regional Jail. “We realized we all share the same issues, and we focused on working together to learn new ways of addressing these issues. We also built relationships with other leaders from across of the country. When we return to our departments we will have our classmates that we can reach out to and lean on for assistance. I think we really added new tools to our tool belts that we can take back to our departments and make a difference with.”
During the week, each participant selected a pressing problem at their jail and together they came up with solutions. Among the topics addressed were management of offenders with mental health issues, communication and teamwork, retention of employees, intergenerational work conflicts, leadership development/succession planning, and internal agency culture.
“I have been to numerous training classes throughout the years, and it is among the two top, if not the top one,” said Robert Bowman, Administrative Lt. for the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina. “All the information is relevant. The instructors have a vast amount of knowledge, and the topics were well prepared.”
In addition to addressing broad-reaching challenges, participants also worked on their individual leadership skills in handling daily task such as policies, job descriptions, budgets, unions, and staff training. They also got to know a lot about themselves and their leadership styles.
“It crystalizes what is means to be a corrections professional,” said Chief John Johnson of Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department, a graduate of Class #17 and president of the AJA. ”It forces you to examine yourself as well as the emerging trends in the industry. You also get to talk to others in the field.”
Bob Patterson, former president of the AJA and the Texas Jail Association, was a part of the executive leadership that insured their vision for the program came to fruition through the partnership of CMIT and the AJA. He urged graduates to participate in AJA to help mold the future of the discipline. “We need you, we need your leadership, and we need your vision,” Patterson.