HOUSTON — The American Correctional Association (ACA) held its annual winter conference in Houston, Texas at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Jan. 25-30. Hundreds of exhibitors and attendees gathered to see the latest products, projects and people in the industry.
The event kicked off on Friday, Jan. 25 with a welcome reception and the beginning of attendee and exhibitor registration. Then, throughout the weekend, various meetings were held with different committees as well as ACA workshops.
On Sunday, Jan. 28, the exhibitor floor opened from 4-6 p.m. for exhibitors to meet and greet their neighbors and say hello to old friends and give introductions to new colleagues. The exhibit hall open house reception featured cocktails for purchase and gave an exciting first glance at the 2013 ACA Winter Conference.
Then, on Monday, Jan. 29, the exhibit hall officially opened for business. The crowds of people seemed to gravitate first towards Aramark’s booth — which happened to be serving up food for hungry attendees. Many of the major players in the industry were present at the show and discussed upcoming projects and progressions in the field.
Correctional News also attended an informative ASTM meeting, where industry specialists met to discuss and review the latest standards for specific components of justice/correctional facilities. Jim Stapleton, Jr., president and CEO of Habersham Metal Products, also the chairman of the task groups on detention hollow metal and detention fixed barriers, led the discussion and moderation at the meeting.
“It’s [ASTM] one of the few groups that includes manufacturers, contractors, and especially the architectural community,” Stapleton said. “The objective is to hear from the architectural community especially, and find out what their concerns are and they can be improved with different or updated equipment standards.”
Before making a final standard, companies will test their products and end services in the detention environment and simulate the threats to make sure that the product is going to stand up to those situations, according to Stapleton.
“The ASTM standards are a body of standards that we recommend that all of detention products and detention systems meet, and if they meet these standards you have the best chance for success in not having issues arise inside your facility,” explained Stapleton.
Stapleton explained that the task groups have the major architectural firms, but insisted that as many architects that can get involved, the better. Also, detention equipment contractors are wanted in the group since they give the group a perspective from the installation side.
“Everyone in the industry is welcome and we encourage more people to join,” Stapleton said.
Overall, ACA Winter was full of warm weather, encouraging discussions, shared knowledge and the latest industry innovations. In case you missed the event, you can still sign up for ACA Summer, which is right around the corner. Visit www.aca.org  for more information on the summer event being held Aug. 9-14 at the Gaylord National Convention Center in Maryland. Also, if you’re interested in participating in an ASTM task group, visit www.astm.org  for more information on how you can get involved.