What Is the Accreditation of Correctional Facilities?

The accreditation of correctional facilities is a set of standards that represent fundamental correctional practices in several different areas, says the American Correctional Association. The Standards and Accreditation Department of the ACA develops and monitors these standards, facilitates the accreditation process and offers training and resources to implement leading correctional practices.

The purpose of ACA accreditation is to improve facility operations such as safety, programs, inmate care, administration and justice, according to its official website. The standards created by the ACA are designed to ensure inmate and staff security and safety; bolster staff morale; improve records and data management; prevent litigation; and improve functionality at all levels. The process of gaining accreditation includes assessment, preparation, contracting, auditing and an appearance at the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections.

Benefits of accreditation include assessments of facility weaknesses and strengths, explains the American Correctional Association. Staff morale and safety are improved through a better understanding of policies and procedures, increased accountability and focus on physical facility issues and security protocol. A continuous review of agency policy results in the establishment of measurable criteria for improving operations. Standards based on performance result in data that can be used by management to reduce the number of significant events. Accredited agencies pay reduced premiums on liability insurance and have a better defense against potential litigation.