An Amazing Profession!
Thursday, September 1, 2022
by: Darren Sieger, MS, CJM

Section: President's Commentary

Darren Sieger, MS, CJM President American Jail Association

First, thank you to all attendees, vendor partners, presenters, volunteers, and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for making the 41st AJA Conference and Jail Expo in Long Beach, California a tremendous success. It was great to see so many of you in person and share time together. The conference had 709 attendees, 65 volunteers, and over 190 companies in the exhibit hall. I hope you returned to your agencies with valuable best practices, ideas for improvement, and great product information to enhance jail operations.

This issue of the American Jails Magazine is focused on, “Celebrating our Nation’s 2022 Heroes in Corrections.” There are so many individuals who fit the definition of a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. As you are reading this, you probably have thought of numerous colleagues, a supervisor, or a mentor that meet these criteria. Every day in jails across the nation and world, heroes improve the lives of those they serve with, whom they are responsible for, and the citizens within their community.

Many of us rarely consider how we entered the profession; did we choose corrections, or did corrections choose us? Funny story, my grandmother cut out a want-ad from the newspaper and gave it to me. Twenty-seven plus years later, applying was one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s incredible how such a small act can change the course of your life. I can’t think of a more rewarding profession that provides growth opportunity, the ability to make lasting change, and the chance to help others improve their lives. Regardless of how you arrived, the ability to positively contribute in your jail is limitless. Lastly, in many ways, the most rewarding aspect of working in a jail is the quality relationships we form with our department peers and throughout the industry. Involvement in associations such as AJA provide you a platform to make these external connections. I’ve heard many times over the years that jail “people” are so friendly, helpful, and a lot of fun! I’m very proud that we have this reputation.

Today, organizational leaders face innumerable challenges, none more pressing than staff recruitment, retention, health, wellness, supervisor development, and succession planning. The industry is facing unprecedented staffing shortages across all disciplines; security, medical, mental health, and vendor services. Fortunately, this coming October 12-14, 2022 AJA will be holding their Second Annual Summit  in Columbus, Ohio which will focus on dynamic presentations specific to these topics. Registration and more information is available on the website. I look forward to sharing time with you learning about innovative methods and techniques  to solve these difficulties, provision of state-of-the-art resources for our staff, exhibitor partner offerings, and networking prospects.

Thank you for the professionalism you provide to our nations jails and for your support of AJA.
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