American Correctional Association (ACA)

The American Correctional Association has been established and exists for the purpose of improving correctional agencies, institutions and programs through the process of certification.  Certification is a process administered by an impartial, elected Commission which certifies whether or not an agency, institution or program meets and maintains compliance with American Correctional Association standards. 

What the ACA's Standards?

Since their inception, the ACA standards have served to establish a fundamental operational structure for facilities and agencies that have implemented them.  ACA standards interface with all aspects of operations, including safety, security, order, care, programs, justice, and administration, among others.  While ACA standards provide guidelines for these areas and require the existence of some specific practices or conditions, they are designed to facilitate the development of independent agency policy and procedure that govern the agency's everyday operations.  Since the mid-2000s, ACA standards have gradually migrated to a "performance-based" model in which agencies collect, track, and analyze internal outcomes related to each standard in order to gage their performance and adjust their operations accordingly.  This model has proven to be a successful method of improving agency operations through the use of real-time data with an immediate and significant impact on inmates, staff, and administrators throughout the facility or agency. 

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ACA Code of Ethics


The American Correctional Association expects of its members unfailing honesty, respect for the dignity and individuality of human beings and a commitment to professional and compassionate service.  To this end, we subscribe to the following principles.

  • Members shall respect and protect the civil and legal rights of all individuals.
  • Members shall treat every professional situation with concern for the welfare of the individuals involved and with no intent to personal gain.
  • Members shall maintain relationships with colleagues to promote mutual respect within the profession and improve the quality of service.
  • Members shall make public criticism of their colleagues or their agencies only when warranted, verifiable, and constructive.
  • Members shall respect the importance of all disciplines within the criminal justice system and work to improve cooperation with each segment.
  • Members shall honor the public's right to information and share information with the public to the extent permitted by law subject to individuals' right to privacy.
  • Members shall respect and protect the right of the public to be safeguarded form criminal activity.
  • Members shall refrain from using their positions to secure personal privileges or advantages.
  • Members shall refrain from allowing personal interest to impair objectivity in the performance of duty while acting in an official capacity.
  • Members shall refrain from entering into any formal or informal activity of agreement which presents a conflict of interest or is inconsistent with the conscientious performance of duties.
  • Members shall refrain from accepting any gifts, services, or favors that is or appears to be improper or implies an obligation in consistent with the free and objective exercise of professional duties.
  • Members shall clearly differentiate between personal views/statements and views/statements/positions made on behalf of the agency or Association.
  • Members shall report to appropriate authorities any corrupt or unethical behaviors in which there is sufficient evidence to justify review.
  • Members shall refrain from discriminating against any individual because of race, gender, creed, national origin, religious affiliation, age, disability or any other type of prohibited discrimination.
  • Members shall preserve the integrity of private information; they shall refrain from seeking information on individuals beyond that which is necessry to implement responsibilities and perform their duties; members shall refrain from revealing nonpublic information unless expressly authorized to do so.
  • Members shall make all  appointments, promotions, and dismissals in accordance with established civil service rules, applicable contract agreements, and individual merit, rather than furtherance of personal interests
  • Members shall respect, promote, and contribute to a work place that is safe, healthy, and free of harassment in any form.

Adopted by the Board of Governors and Delgate Assembly in August 1994.


ACA Audit Reports

2015 ACA Audit

2018 ACA Audit