The Accreditation Unit’s mission is to enable the GDC to earn national accreditation and state certification thus improving the agency’s operational effectiveness and efficiency by aligning policy, practice and procedures to established standards. The national accreditation and state certification standards are continually revised to reflect best practices in corrections and law enforcement gathered from agencies across the United States. GDC is currently in the process of obtaining national accreditation through the American Correctional Association (ACA). ACA establishes standards in the following five major areas: Administration and Management, Physical Plant, Institutional Operations, Institutional Services, and Inmate Programs.
Established in 2016, the Compliance Unit Division of the Office of Professional Standards evaluates and analyzes the Agency’s facili-ties, offices, and staff compliance with existing laws, department rules, regulations, directives, standards, and policies.
The Division assesses success in the utilization of resources and determines whether desired results are being achieved. It further provides consultation and technical assistance to achieve compli-ance and promote greater administrative, operational, and program value. Members of this Division work with field and central office staff to create and monitor meaningful, effective, sustainable pro-cesses for operational improvement beyond compliance.
Responsibilities include policy administration, accreditation coordi-nation, management of the inspection process, and oversight of the Prison Rape Elimination and Americans with Disabilities Acts. The Unit employs twenty-one (21) staff including a Compliance and Accreditation Coordinator, Policy Administrator, ADA Coordinator with an Administrative Support person, PREA Coordinator with an Assistant PREA Coordinator, Senior Auditor with twelve (12) Au-ditors, and a Compliance Analyst all managed by the Unit Director. Personnel changes in the Unit since July 1, 2017 include addition of three (3) physical plant auditor positions, with turnover in one; one (1) internal promotion, one (1) lateral move; two (2) retire-ments and three (3) external promotions; with five new hires to backfill these vacant positions.
Our vision is to provide evaluation and assessment through an ef-fective inspection process of the Department’s operations, policies, and procedures in order to implement positive changes toward con-tinuous improvement.
American Correctional Association (ACA)
The management of the American Correctional Association (ACA) accreditation contract is handled under the direction of the Compliance Unit. The benefits of accreditation are to en-sure we are operating secure and safe facilities while provid-ing programming, education and healthcare services to of-fenders in a manner consistent with national standards. GDC strives to provide a stronger defense against litigation through documentation and a good faith effort to improve the condi-tions of confinement.
- Awarded Accreditation for Central Office and Central Training Academy on January 6, 2018.
- Completed ACA Mock Audit assessments at Montgomery State Prison in July 2017 and Emanuel Women’s Facility in September 2017.
- Completed ACA Audits at Emanuel Women’s Facility and Montgomery State Prison in May 2018. ACA Panel Hearing for final determination of accreditation is scheduled August 4, 2018.
- Utilized PowerDMS electronic assessment tool for all ACA audits.
- Developed Facility Compliance Specialist job description and was approved to implement the new po-sition in all state prisons. Assisted with Promotion Boards for positions in various facilities.
- Conducted training for Facility Compliance Specialists.
- Assisted in the revision of over 185 SOP.
- Conducted ACA Orientation for facility staff and academies
Americans with Disabilities (ADA)
The newly devel-oped (2017) Ameri-cans with Disabili-ties (ADA) and Limited English Proficiency (LEP)/ Sensory Impair-ment (SI) Section is comprised of one full-time Coordina-tor. The Georgia Department of Correction (GDC) ADA/LEP/SI Coordinator is responsible for the oversight and coordination of the agency’s efforts to comply with the ADA Civil Rights Law and LEP/SI requirements. The Coordinator works in direct collaboration with the State ADA Coor-dinator’s Office and other experts, who assist in interpreting the law and introducing viable acces-sibility solutions. The Coordinator conducts site visits and evaluations of all facilities and offices on an annual basis. The results of these visits and evaluations are utilized to guide the delivery of programs, services, and activities to qualified in-dividuals with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency, ensuring accessibility. The Coordinator is responsible for training all staff on the requirements of ADA/LEP/SI. Additionally, the Coordinator offers guidance to facilities on all reasonable accommodation requests and ADA related grievances. The Coordinator accomplishes the mission through collaboration with Facility ADA Coordinators, who are selected to serve in all GDC and privately operated facilities.
- Trained over 7,000 GDC and GCHC staff.
- Developed new ADA Title II Provisions SOP.
- Spent $120,000 on American Sign Language services.
- Designated ADA Coordinators in all facilities.
- Ensured TTY devices are available in 52 facilities.
- Secured $640,000 through Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission and the Gov-ernor’s Office, for ADA improvements in 12 GDC facilities. Completed construction review; bidding to begin FY19.
- Realized Video Relay Services (VRS) at seven GDC facilities in May 2018.
- Secured an array of Assistive Technology for Education, Programming, and Library services.
- Procured Vibrating and Talking Watches for deaf and blind offenders to be distributed in FY19.
- Developed 14 training sessions including: GDC ADA Orientation, Facility ADA and Griev-ance Coordinators Scenario Based Training, Introduction to ADA for Correctional Officers, ADA Orientation for Investigators, Strategic ADA Planning for Facility Leaders, ADA Orien-tation Train the Trainer Program, ADA for Educators, ADA for Qualified Medical Profession-als, ADA for Compliance Specialists.
Auditors on this team are a select group of experi-enced Subject Matter Experts (SME) responsible for oversight of the complete internal assessment process. In addition to comprehensive scheduled assessments, other visits include: unannounced evaluative inspec-tions, follow-up reviews, and technical assistance vis-its. Leadership may also request an assessment of any facility at any time. The team coordinates and collaborates with auditors from all disciplines to ensure a complete and compre-hensive annual assessment of all facilities. Standards reviewed are based on Federal, State and Local law to include GDC Operational Standards and ACA re-quirements. Over 35 audit guides were updated this period to incorporate ACA standards and every guide was revised to a new format. This required a heavy lift of our auditors through research and investigation and a detailed study of the ACA standards.
The team conducts training for facility staff and as-sists with the revision, preparation, and dissemination of new and updated compliance standards and proce-dures.
Four new members where added to the team including an ACA Compliance Liaison and three physical plant auditors. This brings the Audit Team staff to 13 mem-bers. Auditors spend 95% percent of their time in overnight travel within the State of Georgia. Inspections are performed at all facilities under the jurisdiction of the Board of Corrections annually.
The PREA Unit oversees PREA compliance for all state prisons and state centers and provides assistance to contract confinement facilities in the state of Georgia. Oversight includes: PREA poli-cy management; managing federal audits; facility compliance site visits; administration and criminal investigation reviews; offender allegation reporting; data analysis; grant and contract manage-ment; mandatory PREA trainings; and SART (Sexual Abuse/Assault Response Team) protocols. PREA impacts all divisions within the GDC.
In 2017 the GDC completed Cycle 2, Year 1 audits with 100% compliance at 20 state prisons and centers. In August, 2017 we began our Cycle 2, Year 2 audits. GDC is consistently exceeding standards with our zero-tolerance for sexual abuse and sexual harassment policy, hiring and promo-tion decisions, PREA training and inmate reporting. Audits have also identified areas in which GDC needs to improve processes regarding victim screenings, outside advocacy services, and em-ployee background checks. Other PREA accomplishments for 2017 include: Project completion of two grants (BJA and CJCC.); The Moss Group LGBTI workshop; Policy 208.06 revisions; devel-opment and implementation of the new PREA Scribe module; changes were made to grievance pro-cedure regarding sexual abuse and sexual harassment; an internal gender classification PAT was developed; a part time PREA clerk position was implemented and filled; a new Assistant PREA Co-ordinator was hired. The PREA Unit conducted in-service, annual SART and PCM trainings and assisted facilities leadership with facilities management courses.