Jail Earns Accreditation from Evaluation Agency; It Came Just after Abuse Allegations

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, County Line staff writer

Inmates might not like the food, the regimentation, or the quality of health care they receive at the Clay County jail. But the brick-and-steel detention facility in Green Cove Springs is considered one of the best in the state.

For the first time in its history, the county jail has earned a certificate attesting to its excellence from Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission Inc., a private agency that inspects and evaluates jails and other correctional facilities throughout the state.

The certificate was presented to Sheriff Scott Lancaster, who oversees the county's law enforcement agency and the jail, during an accreditation commission meeting in Fort Myers a few weeks ago.

Mary Justino, a spokeswoman for the Clay County Sheriff's Office, said the accreditation process took two years to complete and involved a comprehensive scrutiny of the jail's policies, procedures, management practices, operations and support services "to determine compliance with 263 recognized standards of excellence."

Jails must apply for accreditation on a voluntary basis. The process, Justino said, provides detention facilities a "quality assurance review that encourages intense self-scrutiny, resulting in more efficient and effective daily operations."

It can result in additional federal or state grant money coming to Clay County, so having a jail accredited by the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission is considered a significant accomplishment and is "held in high esteem by the Florida corrections community," she said. …