October 9, 2002
Mecklenburg County Jails Achieve National Accreditation
Today, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office became the first local jail system in the state to become nationally accredited in the operation of their detention/rehabilitation facilities. This designation came from the American Correctional Association’s accreditation team at the close of a three-day operational audit.
The accreditation team, comprised of correctional professionals from around the country, visited Jail North and Jail Central to review everything from facility policy and procedures to medical and maintenance services. In most situations, preparing for ACA accreditation can take up to two years; however, because of the existing professional operation, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office was able to achieve the honor in one year. Nationwide, there are approximately 3,370 jail facilities, of which, only 3% are ACA accredited.
The primary purpose of accreditation is to protect life, safety, and health of jail staff and inmates by insuring compliance with national safety regulations. Other reasons to become accredited are to minimize the potential for expensive and time-consuming litigation from negligence and other liability; to assess the strengths and weaknesses of jails to maximize available resources and implement necessary changes; to enhance the jail’s credibility with the courts and the general public; to achieve public and professional recognition of good performance; and, improve staff morale and inmate behavior.
“Achieving accreditation within one year of starting the process speaks volumes to the professionalism of the Sheriff’s Office staff and the willingness of the taxpayers to support our Vision of being recognized as a leading and professional organization, “ says Sheriff Jim Pendergraph. “Having accredited facilities means that buildings last longer, staff and inmates remain safe, and employees stay longer with the Sheriff’s Office. All this leads to more efficient use of the tax dollars entrusted to us. Again, Mecklenburg County leads the way for other communities around the country.”
The official Accreditation Award occurs in January 2003 during the American Correctional Association’s annual conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.