On the morning of Aug. 5, the American Correctional Association's 149th Congress of Correction held its annual General Session, sponsored by Falcon and Aramark. Hundreds of conference attendees gathered at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center for one of the most notable events of every Congress of Correction. The event began with the entrance of ACA's executive committee, along with the presenting of colors and the National Anthems of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. ACA President Gary C. Mohr called the day "a great day to be alive," and introduced the ACA executive committee, along with other guests who sat at the head table and the ACA past presidents who were seated in the audience. Mohr's words also rang true as the correctional officers and staff who had lost their lives in the past year, as well as ACA members who had passed away in the past year, were honored.
After that, the 72nd Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, took the stage. Baker, known for reducing the deficit completely and working to reduce the number of victims of the opioid crisis in Massachusetts, presented the Governor's Citation to ACA Executive Director James A. Gondles Jr. to "thank [him] for his 28 years of service," saying that he "made a tremendous difference during a particularly difficult time."
"One of the great challenges you all face... is being able to continue to adapt to a changing set of facts, circumstances and situations with respect to how we deal with and provide and perform correctional services here in the United States and Massachusetts," Baker said. "The work you do does matter.... You should all know, recognize and understand that the reason people talk, care and participate in the dialogue is because this stuff is important."
Once Governor Baker concluded his speech, Betsy Johnson, Vice President of Marketing of Aramark, took to the podium to introduce the keynote speaker. This year's keynote speaker was former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Johnson spoke about Christie and his "unparalleled perspective," not only as a former governor, but for his work as a senior legal and political commentator for ABC News and the managing member of the Christie Law Firm and Christie 55 Solutions, LLC. However, it was his role as chairman of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis that was of particular note. Christie was appointed to the position by President Donald J. Trump...