Seeking Accreditation

This section is designed for agencies interested in becoming accredited by the American Correctional Association.  It contains information on why agencies should choose to be accredited, the benefits of the process and ACA’s standards, testimonials from accredited agencies, accreditation costs, and information on how to begin the contracting process.


Assessment of program strengths and weaknesses.
An ACA audit involves assessments that cover administration and management, the physical plant, institutional operations and services, and inmate programs. It also assesses issues and concerns that may affect the quality of life at a facility such as staff training, adequacy of medical services, sanitation, use of segregation and detention, incidents of violence, crowding, offender activity levels, programs, and provisions of basic services that may impact the life, safety and health of inmates, as well as staff. 

Establishment of measurable criteria for upgrading operations.
Through the standards and accreditation process agencies continuously review agency policy and procedure and have the ability to make necessary improvements when deficiencies are recognized. 

Performance-based benefits.
Performance-based standards provide data that can be used in the day-to-day management of the facility reducing the occurrence of significant events. Accredited agencies, such as health care facilities, will find it easier to recruit and retain health care professionals. Not only does compliance provide agencies with a cost-effective, pro-active approach to offender health care, but it can be used to justify requests for additional funding.  
Improved staff training and development.

ACA accreditation requires written policy and procedures to establish a training and staff development program for all categories of personnel. The training requirements address all pre-service, in-service and specialized training curricula with clear timelines, and considers the institution's mission, physical characteristics and inmate populations. The professional growth of employees is systematically developed through training plans that annually identify current job-related training needs in relation to position requirements, current correctional issues, new theories, techniques and technologies. 

Improved staff morale and professionalism.
Accreditation is awarded to the "best of the best" in the corrections field. Staff have a better understanding of policies and procedures and this contributes to improved working conditions for staff. 

Safer environment for staff and offenders.
Staff, as well as offenders, benefit from increased accountability, attention to physical plant issues and security procedures. Whether a facility or program, the accreditation process ensures a clear assessment of strengths and weaknesses 

Defense against lawsuits.
Accredited agencies have a stronger defense against litigation through documentation and the demonstration of a "good faith" effort to improve conditions of confinement. 

Reduced liability insurance costs.
As an incentive for agencies willing to participate in ACA's national accreditation program, insurance companies offer a reduction on liability insurance premiums to accredited facilities. Adherence to nationally recognized standards for fire, safety, health and training reduce claim expenses, allowing up to a 10 percent credit on liability insurance premiums. In most cases, the resulting savings on insurance premiums more than offset the actual cost of accreditation. 

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