Understanding Prison Accreditation
Corrections administrators must abide by certain standards. These standards are imposed by the American Correctional Association (ACA). Prison facilities are accredited through (ACA). The object of accreditation is to provide a system of ensuring that corrections systems are operating within certain accepted standards. Accreditation also increases professionalism and safety by providing a metric for qualifying prisons. In order to be accredited by the ACA, prisons must complete:
· pre-accreditation assessment,
· application status,
· correspondent status,
· standards compliance audit,
· accreditation hearing,
· accredited status
· and re-accreditation (Harding, 1997).
This is a challenge for prison administrators because of the many problems that are barriers to safety and environmental conditions due to overcrowding. While this metric is beneficial, the ACA has become controversial because there have been many incidents in which accredited facilities were found to be abusive environments with poor conditions (Harding, 1997). In order to increase correctional officer professionalization and quality accreditation, a national standard would need to be implemented in order to remove any bias that may exist with the ACA (Harding, 1997). This would also involve private auditing of facilities. This type of accreditation would be especially useful in cases of privatization. As well as, creating universal standards problems such as overcrowding need to be addressed in order to create practical standards for prison environments.
Harding, R. W. (1997). Private Prisons and Public Accountability. New Jersey: Open University Press.