Facility Earns National Accreditation

The Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office, Jail and House of Correction has received a formal three-year accreditation from the American Correctional Association.

This widely sought national honor makes the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction just the 144th to be so recognized among 3,700 Adult Local Detention Facilities nationwide.

The formal accreditation, “in recognition of the attainment of excellence in the operation of an adult local detention facility,” was presented January 12, 2009 during a ceremony in Kissimmee, Florida.

In November 2008, three ACA auditors spent three days at the Berkshire facility conducting a standards compliance audit.

The accreditation audit, according to the ACA, “offers the opportunity to evaluate operations against national standards, to remedy deficiencies and to upgrade the quality of correctional programs and services.” Among the benefits of the accreditation, they said, are “improved management, defense against lawsuits through documentation and demonstration of a ‘good faith’ effort to improve conditions of confinement and a safer and more humane environment for personnel and offenders.”

Particular strong points cited by the auditors included excellent communication among departments, cleanliness of the facility, the classification process, inmate programs and cooperation among staff.

In addition to finding the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction “one of the cleanest facilities audited,” the report declared “the team found employees of the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction to be very professional, knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. Both staff and inmates feel safe in the facility. There are many outstanding services and programs at the facility.”

Since May of 2008, Sheriff’s staff had been collecting statistical information and building folders in anticipation of the audit, in categories ranging from food preparation to medical care and treatment of inmates.

During the formal audit, ACA auditors inspected folders for primary (policies and procedures) and secondary (log books, forms) documentation, interviewed correctional staff on all three shifts and spoke with inmates.

The ACA accreditation is the second major accreditation earned by the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office, Jail and House of Correction. In 2007, the Jail and House of Correction earned a three-year accreditation from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. The Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction has been accredited by the NCCHC since 1980, and this marked the third NCCHC accreditation for the Cheshire Road facility, which opened in 2001.