Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Accreditation?

    Accreditation is a system of verification that correctional agencies/facilities comply with national standards promulgated by the American Correctional Association. Accreditation is achieved through a series of reviews, evaluations, audits and hearings.

  • What are ACA Standards?

    ACA standards are the national benchmark for the effective operation of correctional systems throughout the United States and are necessary to ensure that correctional facilities are operated professionally. They address services, programs and operations essential to good correctional management, including administrative and fiscal controls, staff training and development, physical plant, safety and emergency procedures, sanitation, food service, and rules and discipline. Standards reflect practical, up-to-date policies and procedures that safeguard the life, health and safety of staff and offenders.

  • How Many Standards Must Correctional Facilities Comply With In Order To Receive Accreditation?

    Standards are classified into two categories: mandatory and non-mandatory. To be awarded accreditation, applicants must comply with 100% of the applicable mandatory standards and at least 90% of applicable non-mandatory standards. However, the Commission evaluates the conditions of confinement/quality of life as well as standards compliance levels in making their decisions on awarding accreditation.

  • Are there different standards for different types of facilities?

    Yes. The Association currently publishes 25 different accreditation manuals, each of which applies to a specific kind of correctional facility or program. The standards cover programs for adults and juveniles housed in correctional facilities, detention centers and community correctional programs. There are also standards for probation and parole agencies, health care programs and electronic monitoring programs.

  • How can I tell if a standard has been revised, deleted or updated?

    The Standards Supplement provides all additions, deletions and revisions to the standards. The Standard Supplements are published every two years.

  • Who revises the standards?

    The Standards Committee reviews proposals for revisions, deletions and additions to the standards twice a year in conjunction with the ACA conferences. Proposals are solicited and received from the field.

  • How can an agency/facility become accredited?

    Agency staff should contact a Standards & Accreditation Specialist to obtain the necessary materials to implement the accreditation process. Once this contact is made, the agency and association staff work together to determine the applicable manual of standards and the appropriate fees. A contract is then executed. To contact a Standards & Accreditation specialist please refer to the “About US; Meet the Staff” tab. What Accreditation specialist you are assigned to is based on what state and organization they oversee.

  • What is Reaccreditation?

    Reaccreditation is a continuation of initial accreditation. It occurs every three years. Since standards are being revised constantly, it may involve compliance with some new or updated standards. The process does include a standards compliance audit and another accreditation hearing.

  • Who are the Auditors?

    ACA auditors are corrections professionals who are selected and trained by ACA. The average auditor has worked in the field of corrections for over 18 years and has experience operating and evaluating the type of facility being audited.