The Commission on Accreditation for Corrections officially adopted the revised version of a new policy named "Discretionary Compliance" at ACA's 2005 Winter Conference in Phoenix. This policy was a long time in the making. The Commission on Accreditation for Corrections and state directors from across the country collaborated to create a policy that not only improved but sustained the integrity of the accreditation process.
With the adoption of this new policy, agencies and facilities that will be attending the panel hearings at the 135th Congress of Correction in Baltimore next month will be sent a revised Response to Non-Compliance form, with the option to apply for a discretionary compliance. Below is the new policy and instructions to facilities and agencies from the Agency Manual of Accreditation Policy and Procedure on its use. The following is the policy that was approved.
The Commission on Accreditation for Corrections understands that there are circumstances in which agencies do not wish to comply with a particular standard for a variety of reasons. These reasons include:
An unwillingness to request funds from a parent agency or funding source;
A preference to satisfy the standard/expected practice's intent in an alternative fashion;
An objection from a parent agency, higher level government official or funding source to the nature of the standard/expected practice;
A clear policy in place at a higher level that is contrary to the requirements of the standard/expected practice; or
An existing provision in a collective bargaining agreement that makes compliance impossible (without bargaining with the employees' union to effect such a change).
Where the agency does not wish to comply with a nonmandatory standard/expected practice, it should notify ACA staff on the Response to Non-Compliance form that it has elected to select the particular standard/expected practice(s) as a "discretionary compliance." In such instances, the agency need only to: provide the rationale for identifying the standard/expected practice as discretionary (i.e., one of five reasons identified above); and describe the condition generating the request and how noncompliance will not adversely affect, in a significant manner, the life, health and safety of staff, inmates, residents, offenders, clients or, to any degree, the constitutional operation of the facility or program.
The election of discretionary compliance use may be...