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Letter from Corrections USA

To The Editor:

MTC which runs the private prison in Pentetanguishene would have you believe that the American Correctional Association (ACA) is a bastion of correctional excellence subscribed to by the American correctional system, they are not. Just like MTC, they are a private entity with no governmental oversight or regulation. They set their own standards and make it up as they go along.

I have been in corrections for nearly 23 years. As a state Correctional Officer in Massachusetts I saw first hand what the ACA is all about. As the Executive Director for Corrections USA what I believed to be true about the ACA has been proven to me over and over again. It is nothing more than an old boys, “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” network profiting off of incarceration at the expense of public safety.

How legitimate is an ACA accreditation when they have never failed an institution in their entire history? (The ACA will tell you that they do fail institutions. But when asked they refuse to identify even one of those alleged failures claming that the information is conveniently “confidential”.) How legitimate is an ACA accreditation when they refuse to reveal the results of their audits? How legitimate is and ACA accreditation when their committees and boards are comprised of members from the private prison industry? How legitimate are they when they receive their funding from the very institutions they are supposed to monitor?

A true audit and accreditation process should be performed by a nonprofit organization with no ties to the prisons they are auditing. ACA accreditation is voluntary. If you felt your prison would fail an ACA audit why on earth would you ask them to audit you? Prisons only seek accreditation form the ACA because they no there is no downside. You can’t lose because the results aren’t public and they never fail you. It’s the best con game in corrections today.

Some of the most violent prisons in the United States are ACA accredited; Jena in Louisiana where conditions where so bad the US Department of Justice had to take over the prison, Tulsa in Oklahoma where they knowingly hired a man who had served 17 years for murder to head their women’s treatment center, he is now doing time for raping two of those women, Polk in Florida where the private company held juveniles past their release dates so they could collect more per diems, and Elizabeth City in New Jersey where the private guards where so poorly trained they ran when there was a riot, leaving their keys behind. They had to call 911 from the parking lot to get assistance. These are just a very few of the examples of the worthlessness of an ACA accreditation.

Here’s how it works; you give ACA $8,000 - $12,000 and they tell everyone you have a great prison. The ACA and the private prison will tell you that for security reasons they cannot release the results of the audits; just trust them. The ACA says they monitor their prisons once accredited to ensure continued compliance. In the only year in which statistics were available, of the 1,049 ACA accredited institutions they visited 8! Don’t jeopardize the safety of your communities and be fooled yet again by another American company trying to rape the Canadian taxpayers.

I have a better idea, just send Corrections USA $4,000 and we’ll send you a nice certificate saying how great the prison is, we’ll even frame it. It’ll save you about $4,000 and will be just as legitimate.

Brian Dawe
Executive Director
Corrections USA
Thayne, WY

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