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home : latest news : latest news February 6, 2016

8/27/2014 6:00:00 AM
Blythe-area prisons accredited with American Correctional Association
Photo special to the TimesIronwood State Prison Chief Deputy Warden Neil McDowell (left) and Chuckawalla Valley State Prison Warden Maurice Gonzales (right) hold their respective facility’s certification from American Correctiional Association (ACA).
Photo special to the Times

Ironwood State Prison Chief Deputy Warden Neil McDowell (left) and Chuckawalla Valley State Prison Warden Maurice Gonzales (right) hold their respective facility’s certification from American Correctiional Association (ACA).
Special to the Times

BLYTHE, Calif. - The Commission on Accreditation for Corrections accredited Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP) and Ironwood State Prison (ISP) with the American Correctional Association (ACA) Aug. 17. Both institutions are two of 16 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prisons now accredited with the oldest and largest international correctional association in the world.

"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."

"Complying with ACA standards enables us to provide better living conditions for inmates and a better working environment for our staff," CVSP Warden Maurice Gonzales said. "We have achieved an improved standard of operation. I am proud of our staff who continuously worked together as a team to accomplish this goal."

"We appreciate the opportunity to evaluate our facility operations against national standards and upgrade the quality of correctional programs and services," ISP Chief Deputy Warden Neil McDowell said. "This was truly a team effort and staff should be commended for their hard work, dedication and professionalism."

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.

ACA audit teams visited CVSP and ISP and conducted comprehensive on-site audits of all aspects of prison operations. Both prisons met all of the mandatory requirements and CVSP scored 99.1 and ISP scored 99.1 percent, significantly exceeding the 90 percent mark for non-mandatory items.

California Institution for Women, Centinela State Prison, Folsom State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison, Sierra Conservation Center and Wasco State Prison and Reception Center were also accredited yesterday by the ACA during its 144th Congress of Correction in Salt Lake City.

CDCR's goal is to have all of its 34 institutions accredited by 2017.

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