ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO ANNOUNCES THE ESSEX COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY EARNS ACCREDITATION FROM THE AMERICAN CORRECTIONAL ASSOCIATION
Prestigious Designation Signifies Essex County’s Commitment to Highest National Operational and Professional Standards
Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced on Wednesday, August 21st that the Essex County Correctional Facility earned its first-ever accreditation from the American Correctional Association, which sets the standards for correctional facilities and detention centers in the United States, American territories and some foreign countries. The Essex County Correctional Facility scored a 95 percent rating to receive the three-year accreditation, which signifies Essex County’s commitment to maintaining high professional standards among its staff and maintaining a safe and secure atmosphere for officers and inmates.
“Receiving ACA accreditation was a long-term goal that we’ve had since our Correctional Facility opened in 2004. Completing the construction and getting out from under a Federal Consent Order enabled us to begin a new chapter in our history, and the accreditation demonstrates our commitment to maintaining a model institution that is safe and secure,” DiVincenzo said. “I’d like to thank the officers and staff at the Correctional Facility for their dedication to achieving accreditation, but also the professionalism they exhibit every day,” he added.
“This achievement is the result of collaboration, support and professionalism by the officers, civilian staff and vendors. It is truly amazing to witness this and see it happen,” said NJ State Senator and Essex County Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz.
“The purpose of events like today is to highlight the everyday work that sometimes goes unappreciated. We at the New Jersey Department of Corrections understand the importance of ACA accreditation,” said Marcus O. Hicks, Esq., Director of the Office of Community Programs & Outreach with the New Jersey Department of Corrections. “The Essex County Correctional Facility has demonstrated a high level of excellence that is not easily achieved. The State is proud of Essex County and the staff should be proud,” he added.
Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold congratulated the County Executive and ECCF staff for a job well done and noted that the accreditation is indicative of the professionalism displayed at the facility every day. “When I was notified about this accomplishment, the first thing I thought about was the amount of hard work that went into meeting the standards set by ACA. From the legislative body of the county, we are all proud of you,” Freeholder Leonard Luciano said.
“As the Director of the facility, it is gratifying to see all the hard work we do on a daily basis validated by the ACA accreditation. I commend the men and women at the Correctional Facility for taking ownership of the process and making sure we meet the high standards set by the ACA, not only for this review but every day,” Essex County Correctional Facility Director Alfaro Ortiz said. “The ACA criteria are very comprehensive and touch every aspect of jail operations. As one of the largest correctional institutions on the East Coast, gaining accreditation is a tremendous accomplishment,” he added.
The ACA audit includes 59 mandatory and 300 non-mandatory areas that were reviewed. The ECCF received 100 percent compliance on the mandatory areas and was found compliant in 286 of the 300 non-mandatory areas that were reviewed. This resulted in a 95 percent compliance rating. All aspects of jail operations were reviewed, including accommodations provided to inmates, medical treatment and social services available to inmates, maintenance of the facility, administrative operations and finances, visitation conditions, policies and procedures of the facility and training of officers, to name a few categories.
ACA representatives conducted their audit of the Essex County Correctional Facility from June 10 to 12. The accreditation certificate was presented to Essex County during a conference in Baltimore on August 11th.
The American Correctional Association is the oldest and most prestigious correctional membership organization in the United States. Founded in 1870, ACA currently represents more than 20,000 correctional practitioners in the United States and Canada. ACA standards address services, programs, and operations essential to effective correctional management. Through accreditation, an agency is able to maintain a balance between protecting the public and providing an environment that safeguards the life, health, and safety of staff and offenders. Standards set by ACA reflect practical up-to-date policies and procedures and function as a management tool for over 1,500 correctional agencies in the United States.
The $416 million Correctional Facility was just 40 percent completed when DiVincenzo took office in January 2003. The County Executive restored order to the project and construction was completed in just 12 months. The transition from two antiquated jails took only three months and the 2,100 inmates were transferred into the new facility over two weekends in March 2004. The Correctional Facility was designed to house about 2,370 inmates and is equipped with cutting edge technology.
The Corrections Department has received 100 percent compliance with the New Jersey State Department of Corrections for the past six years (2006-2012) and has been accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities since 2007. It is the only facility in New Jersey to have received the Ambassador Award from the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma, which it earned in 2008. In addition, it has successfully passed inspections by Creative Corrections in 2008, Detention Field Inspection Group in 2009, MGT of America, Inc. from 2008 to the present and the Nakamoto Group, Inc. in 2008 and 2009, which determine that the Correctional Facility is meeting the highest standards to house federal inmates and immigration detainees.