Eight California Prisons Earn ACA Accreditation

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Eight California prisons recently earned accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections, the official accrediting body of the American Correctional Association, bringing the state’s total to 16 approved facilities.

According to a release issued by the CDCR, ACA standards are the national benchmark for the effective operation of correctional facilities. The ACA is responsible for conducting facility audits, while the Commission, comprised of corrections professionals from across the nation, determines accreditation.

“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,” CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard said in a statement. “I commend all CDCR employees for their ongoing commitment to ensuring our facilities meet and exceed such strict standards.”

In the CDCR’s statement, the accreditation audit is described as “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 must comply with 529 different ACA standards, scoring 100 percent for 62 mandatory requirements — half of which address health care — and at least 90 percent on the remaining 467 non-mandatory requirements.

Joining the eight institutions already recognized by the commission, are the 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. According to the CDCR, scores ranged from 97.4 percent to 99.1. In 2015, eight additional state facilities, including San Quentin State Prison and the one-year-old California Men’s Colony, will also be reviewed for accreditation.

CDCR began seeking accreditation from the ACA in 2010, with a goal to have all of the state’s 34 institutions accredited by 2017. According to the department the process is continuous, and several currently accredited facilities will undergo reaccreditation in the coming year.

As ACA accreditation standards are not static, the state also expects the process may require facilities to meet additional or updated standards. In a release, the CDCR states that the ACA Standard 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.” The same standards are used by both adult and juvenile correctional facilities, as well as parole and probation agencies, community-based programs, correctional officials and advocacy groups.