Pendleton brig first to net certification
By Cpl. Jose A. Figueroa
| Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | October 05, 2000
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON --
The Camp Pendleton brig became the first Marine Corps correctional institution to receive an accreditation from a civilian organization Sept. 27.
A three-member inspection team from the American Correctional Association, armed with a list of 484 measurable standards and extensive inspections, determined the base brig met the same standards placed on civilian prisons.
The ACA is a worldwide correctional association dedicated to improving prison operations.
The team that inspected Pendleton's brig comprised members from different correctional institutions across the nation.
With the Marine Corps making more of a push toward operating on a corporate level, the brig requested the certification to add credibility to its operations.
Chief Warrant Officer-4 Gregory J. Stroebel, commanding officer, Base Brig, said, "This has become a way of doing business. Anything that makes the facility better, I'm all for it."
The social work program was one of many that caught ACA inspectors? attention. Jim Riley, former Marine and ACA inspector, applauded program methods.
"The programs here are conducted in such a professional manner, it's amazing," Riley said.
Riley said counseling and therapy offered at the brig here will keep offenders out of state prisons when they get out of the Marine Corps.
Colonel James C. Walker, commanding officer, Security Battalion, Marine Corps Base, said ACA standards are a benchmark for excellence.
"These Marines are professionals in the corrections field and they have to meet the Marine standards. The ACA guidelines are just another standard that they must meet as professionals. It is another tool to achieve more than the minimum," Walker said.
The ACA, a private, nonprofit organization, promotes improvement in the management of correctional facilities by administering a voluntary accreditation program and developing and revising relevant, useful standards. It administers the only accreditation program for all components of adult and juvenile corrections.
The program offers an opportunity to evaluate operations against national standards to remedy deficiencies and upgrade the quality of correctional programs and services.
Facilities with prison populations of 500 or fewer inmates are measured against 484 ACA standards. Of those, 41 are mandatory. To receive accreditation, the prison must comply with 100 percent of mandatory standards and 90 percent of nonmandatory standards.
The base brig, a Level-2 Department of Defense facility accommodating 420 inmates, met 100 percent of mandatory standards and 98.8 percent of nonmandatory standards.
"There are some state prisons that don't even come close," said ACA inspector Venitia Michaels, deputy warden, David Wade Maximum Security Correction Center in Louisiana.
Prisoners can serve up to five years at the brig here. Most individuals serve anywhere from 14 to 30 days while they await legal hearings.
Though the brig received a three-year accreditation, it must submit annual certification statements confirming compliance to ACA standards to retain certification. The brig must be reinspected every three years to stay certified.
Some standards not met by the brig were designated noncompliant and were not inspected.
"For the noncompliance standards, we plan to apply for waivers," Stroebel said. "The answer to meeting the noncompliant standards is to either explain why they are that way or suggest a plan."
Stroebel explained that if the brig were to fix such things as adding more living space in the cells or rewiring the lighting, it would be out of business for a while.
Hopefully, in the near future, other Marine Corps brigs will receive the accreditation. The Camp Lejeune, N.C., brig is the second slated for the accreditation. It?s scheduled for an ACA inspection this month.
The accreditation is a "benchmark in my career," Stroebel said. "I am humbled to be the (commanding officer) of such a band of professionals that made this possible.?