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ACA audit unites facility staff.

Editor's note: One benefit of having your facility accredited by ACA is that it encourages all staff to work together. The following article, written by the accreditation manager at a federal prison, offers a glimpse at how preparing for an audit builds teamwork.

The Federal Correctional Institution in Three Rivers, Texas, opened in January 1991 and began housing more than 1,000 inmates a few months later. Activating the facility provided a true growth experience for all of us. We had to settle into a new work place, unload semi-trailers and obtain all the supplies--everything from pencils to yellow stickies to toilet paper--that get a facility up and running.

We all worked very closely, helped each other and became a true team. We were all anxious, energetic and busy. Audits--by our own staff, Bureau of Prisons staff and ACA--were an important pan of the facility's first months.

First, we conducted internal operational reviews. Next, BOP staff came from Washington, D.C., to look us over. These audits went very well. All of us had a strong sense of pride and ownership. Then, however, some staff became a little territorial: Our team was dividing.

Then came the ACA audit. Because of our pride, professionalism and leadership, we realized we needed each other. The staff rallied together.

The ACA accreditation team began its inspection on a Monday morning. Everyone expected the initial inspection to last four or five hours. Although we began as a group of six--three auditors and three institution staff--by the time the auditors headed for their motel rooms 10 hours later, the addition of more institution staff had expanded the group to about 20 people.

Staff were so proud and eager to show off their work areas, they almost wouldn't let the auditors leave. When the auditors entered an area, staff opened every door, closet and drawer and flashed chemical inventory cards and material safety data sheets. They would have been hurt had the auditors not quizzed them about operational procedures. Day two lasted 11 hours, and the auditors finished their assignment on day three.

Excitement grew during the audit to such a level that I had inmates coming to me to ask how it was going. Inmates said they were willing to forego recreation if the auditors wanted to interview them. Out of 1,387 inmates, only one complained to the audit team, and he could not cite a specific problem.

The contagious enthusiasm consumed us all. Believe me, no one at FCI-Three Rivers doubts the importance and effect of an ACA accreditation audit. It made us a team.

Ed Claunch is accreditation manager at the Federal Correctional Institution in Three Rivers, Texas. The facility scored 100 percent on ACA's mandatory standards and 98.8 percent on non-mandatory standards.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:American Correctional Association
Author:Claunch, Ed
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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