Nearly half of all California prisons are now accredited with worldwide authority
The Commission on Accreditation for Corrections has accredited eight additional California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prisons, bringing the total number of accredited California prisons to 16.
The most recent round of accreditations was announced Sunday during the American Correctional Association’s (ACA) 144th Congress of Correction in Salt Lake City, Utah.
California Institution for Women, Centinela State Prison, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, Folsom State Prison, Ironwood State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison, Sierra Conservation Center and Wasco State Prison and Reception Center achieved near-perfect scores in the ACA evaluation.
“ACA accreditation is an important and highly respected indicator which demonstrates that our state prisons are being operated safely, professionally, humanely and in compliance with the U.S. Constitution,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. “I commend all CDCR employees for their ongoing commitment to ensuring our facilities meet and exceed such strict standards.”
For more than 143 years, the ACA has been the recognized worldwide authority in corrections and its Commission on Accreditation for Corrections certifies correctional facilities.
The ACA is responsible for conducting the audits; the Commission, comprised of corrections professionals from across the country, is responsible for granting or denying the accreditation.
ACA standards are the national benchmark for the effective operation of correctional facilities. The ACA’s Standards Committee continually revises standards based on changing practices, current case law, agency experiences and the expert opinions of corrections professionals, doctors, legal experts and architects.
Adult and juvenile facilities, community-based programs, and parole and probation agencies all use ACA standards. Lawyers, judges, county administrators, academia and advocacy groups also use ACA standards as a tool to ensure the constitutional rights of offenders and to protect staff and the public.
Institutions seeking accreditation must undergo rigorous reviews and evaluations that culminate in the accreditation audit. CDCR’s Special Review Unit in the Office of Audits and Court Compliance provides departmental oversight and works with the Division of Health Care Services in the accreditation process.
The accreditation audit is a comprehensive review that encompasses every area of prison management including administrative and fiscal controls, staff training and development, the physical plant, safety and emergency procedures, conditions of confinement, rules and discipline, inmate programs, health care, food service, sanitation, and the provision of basic services that can affect the life, safety and health of inmates and staff.
Institutions seeking accreditation have to comply with 529 ACA standards and score 100 percent for 62 mandatory requirements and at least 90 percent on 467 non-mandatory requirements. Half of the mandatory standards address health care.
Since last fall, ACA audit teams visited the eight prisons and conducted comprehensive on-site audits of all aspects of prison operations. The teams found that all eight prisons met all of the mandatory requirements and all eight significantly exceeded the 90 percent mark for non-mandatory items.
California Institution for Women received a score of 98.9 percent, Centinela State Prison received 97.4 percent, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison received 99.1 percent, Folsom State Prison received 97.6 percent, Ironwood State Prison received 99.1 percent, Kern Valley State Prison received 98.8 percent, Sierra Conservation Center received 98.8 percent and Wasco State Prison and Reception Center received 97.9 percent.
Next year, Avenal State Prison, California Medical Facility, California Men’s Colony, California State Prison-Corcoran, California State Prison-Los Angeles County, Deuel Vocational Institution, Salinas Valley State Prison and San Quentin State Prison are scheduled to go through the accreditation process.
The accreditation process is intended to be continuous. Three prisons accredited in 2012 – California State Prison-Sacramento, California State Prison-Solano and Central California Women’s Facility – will be going through the re-accreditation process for 2015. Since standards are being revised to reflect changes in the profession, re-accreditation may involve compliance with some new or updated standards.
CDCR’s goal is to have all of its 34 institutions accredited by 2017.
CDCR began the process of seeking nationally recognized accreditation from the ACA in 2010. In addition to the eight prisons accredited today, the following state prisons have also been accredited by the ACA:
- California State Prison-Sacramento, with a score of 98.6 percent
- California State Prison-Solano, 99 percent
- Central California Women’s Facility, 98.16 percent
- Correctional Training Facility, 98.1 percent
- High Desert State Prison, 98.8 percent
- Mule Creek State Prison, 98.8 percent
- North Kern State Prison, 97.66 percent
- Pelican Bay State Prison, 97.4 percent