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McGuire: Bergen jail on track for industry stamp of approval

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Bergen County Sheriff Leo P. McGuire got an election-season boost, although it wasn’t the typical political endorsement: The American Correctional Association gave high grades to the operation of the county jail, which he oversees.


compliance inspection is part of McGuire’s bid to have the facility fully accredited, which he said means that his agency is “adhering to the highest standards of professionalism and public service.”

The audit – conducted by an independent committee – included a tour and examination of the jail; a review of records, files, and written documentation of policies, procedures, and operations; and interviews not only with jail administrators and staff but with some of the inmates.

McGuire said his staff will make a final presentation to the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections during the ACA’s 2011 Winter Conference in late January.  He said he’s expecting formal certification during the conference, followed by full soon after.

The cost is roughly $12,000 a year to achieve and maintain the ACA’s imprimatur.

But McGuire said the process has an important purpose: Earning accreditation helps identify a facility’s strengths and weaknesses, provides a better system of documentation and daily operations, and, in the process, helps keep morale up — and liability down.

Full accreditation brings with it an annual audit and re-accreditation every three years.

Only two other jails in in the state have gotten the AMA’s seal of approval, those in Morris and Monmouth counties.

Founded in 1870, the American Correctional Association is the largest and oldest agency of its kind in the world. It’s considered to have the final word on standards, innovation and professionalism in the corrections field.

The Bergen County Jail employees 320 Corrections Officers to oversee central reception and processing for pre-trial male and female adult detainees “whose incarceration is necessary to ensure a court appearance,” as the literature describes it. The 1,250-bed facility also holds short-timers — those sentenced to 364 days or fewer — in either minimum, medium or maximum security environment.

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