Army correctional facility is first ACA-accredited overseas facility.
Located in Central Europe at Coleman Barracks on the outskirts of Mannheim, Germany, the U.S. Army Confinement Facility-Europe opened in 1963 with a capacity of 230 beds. At the time, it was one of five American military stockades in the European theater. Today, it serves as the only American confinement facility in Europe, providing theater-level pre-and post-trial confinement for male and female inmates.
The facility's mission is unique when compared with other military or civilian correctional facilities in the United States. The main mission is to confine military inmates until they are released or transferred to German or other foreign governmental authorities, military facilities in the United States or released from confinement at the expiration of their sentences. The facility also provides correctional officers as escorts for quarterly overseas shipments to military facilities throughout the United States as far west as Seattle. The facility has an on-call mission to quickly build temporary facilities for up to 1,500 military inmates and handle enemy prisoners of war until the arrival of U.S.-based units.
During the past 10 years, the mission has expanded from confining military offenders and, temporarily, enemy prisoners of war to confining new high-risk detainees and terrorists, and Department of Defense employees and family members awaiting extradition back to the United States. The facility also has been tasked to provide soldiers to assist in operating facilities in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. It is also responsible for conducting health and welfare checks of military inmates confined in German facilities.
The U.S. Army Confinement Facility-Europe is mainly staffed and operated by soldiers from the Army's 9th Military Police Detachment. The majority of these soldiers are 95C corrections specialists, a military occupational specialty. The facility's special staff includes an Army social work officer, behavioral science specialists, a medic, chaplain and chaplain's assistant. Also, 10 civilians who provide administrative and instructional support, six Air Force security police and four Navy personnel are attached to the facility as part of an interservice agreement with the Air Force and Navy. Additional medical support is provided by the installation medical facility.
ACA accreditation is just one of the many accomplishments the soldiers of the 9th Military Police Detachment have achieved. In 1995, the unit was deemed the best U.S. military police unit in Europe and competed to be the top unit in the U.S. Army. Also in 1995, a soldier from the unit was selected as the top Army correctional noncommissioned officer. In 1998, the unit supply section was honored with the U.S. Army Europe Supply Excellence Award. It is the only correctional unit ever to have its supply section recognized as the best among all units within a major Army command.
The facility's inmates are similar to those found in a state or local detention facility. The average inmate is a 24-year-old male enlisted soldier with a high school diploma, who has been convicted of a violent offense and is serving an eight-month sentence. This past July, 57 inmates--seven pretrial and 50 post-trial--were confined to the facility. At least 72 percent of the inmates had a sentence of less than one year. Of the inmates currently confined, their sentences range from 15 days to 42 months. The most common offenses are assault and drug trafficking. During the past year, the facility has housed inmates for crimes that include drugs, arson, larceny, rape, murder and military-unique crimes.
A majority of the inmates are shipped back to the United States before completing their sentences, with a four-month average time between confinement and shipment back to a facility in the United States. Prior to shipment, U.S. military and German civilian authorities (if the case involved a German national) must authorize moving the inmate. Few inmates serve their time at the facility and return to their units; usually they are immediately discharged from service.
All post-trial general population inmates work in the facility. The work programs include an active vocational program that produces signs and plaques for various military units, carpentry and paint shops, and institutional detail to maintain and operate the facility.
In 1997, the Army decided to seek ACA accreditation for its correctional facilities. The facilities located in the United States were the primary focus, and by January 1999 all Army correctional facilities in the United States were ACA accredited. The focus then shifted toward the two overseas Army facilities in Germany and Korea.
The accreditation process for the U.S. Army Confinement Facility-Europe began in May 2000. During the next two years, a lot of hard work went into gathering documentation, managing the process and tweaking the existing standard operating procedures. During that time, the facility's higher headquarters, the 95th Military Police Battalion, actively supported accreditation.
During the annual Army internal reviews of 2000, 2001 and 2002, the Army's Headquarters Department provided Army and Navy personnel who had ACA auditor experience to teams preparing the facility for the accreditation process. World events placed additional restraints and missions on the Germany facility, which slowed the process and stretched the facility during the accreditation. Many of the soldiers were driven by a sense of pride, persistence and determination to be the first overseas facility to receive accreditation. The process culminated June 4, 2002, when ACA auditors went to Germany to evaluate the facility against the 439 adult local detention facility standards. After three days, the team found the facility to be in compliance with 100 percent of the mandatory standards and 98.4 percent of the nonmandatory standards. All six noncompliant standards were physical plant standards.
The accreditation of U.S. Army Confinement Facility-Europe has had a big impact on Department of Defense corrections. It has raised the bar and set the standard by being the first and, to date, only overseas facility of any type, civilian or military, to receive ACA accreditation. The Marine Corps quickly announced it would seek accreditation for its facility in Okinawa, Japan; however, the audit date has not yet been set. The U.S. Army Confinement Facility-Korea is scheduled for an April 2004 audit, which will complete the Army's vision of having all its correctional facilities accredited by ACA.
Lt. Col. David K. Haasenritter is senior correctional adviser to the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.