The American Correctional Association and the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections are private, non-profit organizations which administer the only national accreditation program for all components of adult and juvenile corrections. The purpose of these organizations is to promote improvement in the management of a voluntary accreditation program and the ongoing development and revision of relevant, useful standards.
More than 1,500 correctional facilities and programs are involved in accreditation, a process that began in 1978. Approximately 80 percent of all state departments of corrections and youth services are active participants. Also included are programs and facilities operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the US Parole Commission, the District of Columbia, and the private sector.
For these agencies, the accreditation program offers the opportunity to evaluate their operations against national standards, to remedy deficiencies and to upgrade the quality of correctional programs and services. The recognized benefits from such a process include improved management, a defense against lawsuits through documentation and the demonstration of a "good faith" effort to improve conditions of confinement, increased accountability and enhanced public credibility for administrative and line staff, a safer and more humane environment for personnel and offenders, and the establishment of measurable criteria for upgrading programs, personnel practices, and physical plant on a continuous basis.
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections' involvement in the accreditation process began in 1979. Oklahoma became one of the first states to begin the accreditation process for all institutions and probation and parole. This was followed by the Community Corrections Centers and Central Office.
Due to funding, the Department of Corrections has continued its quest for excellence by maintaining the accreditation processes internally through regular inspections and ongoing monitoring programs.