Nearby jail gets perfect accreditation score on mandatory review items

An overhead look at the ECCF. Essex County

The Essex County Correctional Facility earned accreditation from the American Correctional Association, which sets the standards for correctional facilities and detention centers in the United States, American territories and some foreign countries, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said.

The facility scored a 100% rating to receive a three-year accreditation, which signifies Essex County’s commitment to maintaining high professional standards among its staff and maintaining a safe and secure atmosphere for officers and inmates, the county exec said.

The ECCF first earned ACA accreditation in 2013 and accreditation has been maintained since then.

“Our priority at the correctional facility is to provide a safe and secure environment for our corrections officers, civilian staff and inmates. Continually earning ACA accreditation demonstrates our commitment to this mission and our continued dedication to making the ECCF the best facility it can be,” DiVincenzo said. “Obtaining accreditation is not an easy process and requires the involvement of all our offices and employees. I thank them for their professionalism and attention to detail.”

“The ECCF is the largest facility of its kind in New Jersey, and I am proud to have earned accreditation for the fourth consecutive time,” Essex County Chief of Staff Phil Alagia said. “Under the county executive’s leadership, we took our corrections department from being under a federal consent order for over 25 years and transformed it into a first-class agency that provides custody for not only Essex County inmates, but also Union County, state and federal marshall’s inmates.”

The 62-page report submitted by the review committee included many positive observations about the ECCF and its staff.

When commenting on the intake process, the report said: “It was quite evident to the visiting committee that the booking section of the ECCF was especially attentive, at intake, to everyone received and concerned about each and every inmate’s safety and security.”

On the interaction between corrections officers and inmates, the report states: “Overall, the visiting committee was impressed with the custody, care and control; the firm, fair and consistent attitude; and the individual and person-to-person specific communication and interaction between the facility security staff, and the inmates at ECCF. The visiting committee was impressed with the professionalism, knowledge and training of the security staff.”

Observations in the report about facility maintenance included: “The facility’s maintenance department was obviously attentive to the physical plant operations, including emergency power water and wastewater.”

On medical and health care received by inmates, the report said: “During offender interviews, I had very little complaints related to care. It was a pleasure visiting Essex County Correctional Center. I found the staff to be hospitable, engaged and open for suggestions that would improve the health care program.”

The ECCF also received praise for its faith programs: “The visiting committee was especially impressed with the director of religious services for her commitment and passion to bringing a variety of services and spiritual activities to this large inmate population.”

The ECCF received 100% compliance on the mandatory areas and 98.38% compliance in non-mandatory areas. The ECCF was found non-compliant in five areas based on how the facility was constructed in 1998.

It received waivers for those areas of the physical plant that could not be changed.

All aspects of jail operations were reviewed, including accommodations provided to inmates, medical treatment and social services available to inmates, maintenance of the facility, administrative operations and finances, visitation conditions, policies and procedures of the facility and training of officers among others.

ACA representatives conducted the audit from June 6 to 9. The accreditation certificate was presented to Essex County during the ACA conference in New Orleans early this month.

The facility is designed to house about 2,400 inmates and is equipped with cutting edge technology and has received 100% compliance with New Jersey State Department of Corrections inspections every year since 2006.

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