Feb 122007
 
Authors: Emily Polak

The Larimer County Detention Center was renewed its status as an accredited facility by a regulatory agency last month after an audit recognized it as meeting federal, state and local regulations.

“I am extremely proud of our staff and appreciate the hard work that goes into our accreditation,” said Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden in a statement.

By being accredited, the Larimer County Detention Center is recognized for protecting the safety of the public while also providing a safe and healthy environment for offenders and staff.

“We are complying with national standards as they apply to incarceration within the adult population,” said Lt. Terry Ferebee of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department.

The American Correctional Association, the watchdog group that approved LCDC, offers accreditation to facilities that volunteer for and pass its inspection process.

“It reflects credibility on their (Larimer County Detention Center) part,” said Prabha Unnithan, a professor of sociology with an emphasis in criminology.

After a detention center applies for accreditation, the ACA sends professional corrections auditors from federal, state and local agencies to inspect facilities and records as well as speak with inmates and staff. Inspectors check for preventative maintenance, and compliance with health and fire codes and federal and sate regulations.

“It helps protect us from liability exposure and ensures that we run a professional top-notch organization,” Ferebee said.

Unnithan stressed that much of the inspection is based on national standards that may or may not be appropriate for all detention centers.

“Part of the challenge is the use of national regulations,” Unnithan said.?

According to Ferebee, there are over 3,630 jails in the United States and less than 100 of them have received accreditation.

“It’s a feather in our hats,” he said.

Mike Hogan, a sociology professor with an emphasis in criminology, speculated that the low number of accredited institutions might be due to a lack of participation by detention centers in the program.

“It probably has some value,” Hogan said. “It’s a way to have some sort of independent oversight.”

Alderden announced the re-accreditation after the ACA presented it in January. The Larimer County Detention Center was first accredited in 1986 and has renewed its status every three years since then.

“It’s a good thing,” Unnithan said. “It’s a good thing to go above and beyond.”

Staff writer Emily Polak can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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-The detention center was built in 1983.

– In 1983 it had 152 beds and an average of 105 inmates.

– Currently it has 517 beds and an average of 483 inmates.

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