The Morris County Correctional Facility in Morris Township has been accredited for a sixth consecutive time, mastering standards set by the American Correctional Association for jails on nutrition, security, cleanliness and quality of life.
A three-member team of auditors for the American Correctional Association, a private, non-profit corrections accrediting group, toured, examined records, and talked to staff and inmates at the 18-year-old county jail over a three-day period in May.
The tour culminated last weekend with reaccreditation of the jail during an ACA conference in New Orleans. Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, jail Warden Christopher Klein and other top correctional officers answered final questions posed by an ACA panel before learning the jail was re-accredited for a three-year period.
They were told the jail had the rare distinction of being one of the few county jails in the nation that achieved 100 percent compliance scores on 383 standards evaluated by the auditors. Nationwide, fewer than 150 county jails out of more than 3,000 are accredited.
“I am truly proud of this accomplishment by the correctional facility’s sworn and civilian staff, the professionalism they show every day, and the humane environment they maintain for inmates,” said Gannon.
Warden Christopher Klein said the reaccreditation is a testament to the commitment of the facility’s staff that includes 165 sworn officers and 19 medical personnel.
“It’s always good to have outsiders come in and reaffirm the good work our staff does. The standards by the American Correctional Association are above and beyond state standards,” he said.
The jail was built for a population of 524 inmates and housed an average of 233 individuals at the time of the audit. Inmates ranged from age 18 to 75.
The audit’s findings established:
- The jail has a well-integrated and well-designed security system that includes staff control of all entrances, exits and doors.
- The facility provides a comfortable, clean environment to live and work, with adequate shower units.
- Sanitation is given “a very high priority,” according to the audit. Inmates, under staff supervision, clean the facility and cleaning supplies are carefully distributed and inventoried after use.
- The health services unit provides 24-hour medical services and is staffed with people “who appeared to care a great deal about the welfare of the inmates and the work they do,” the report stated.
- Social service specialists complete biopsychosocial intakes on all incoming inmates and provide assistance in adjustment to confinement and work with inmates on discharge planning.
- Inmates can participate in observing the religion of their choice. The jail has a full-time chaplain, who coordinates access to other clergy and volunteers to visit inmates upon request.
The report noted extensive protocols in place to prevent inmate suicides and stated no suicides occurred in more than 12 years. An average of 44 percent of the inmates are on psychotropic medications, and all inmates who enter the facility on psychiatric medication or with a significant mental health history are referred to a psychiatrist.
The audit team spoke in May with 68 inmates, who made positive remarks about the food, medical, educational and other services in May, the audit states. The team also met with 39 staff members, both sworn and civilian.
“The staff was universally professional and obviously proud of their role in the facility operations. They were knowledgeable about their jobs and eager to discuss them,” the audit states.
The correctional facility, situated off John Street in Morris Township, opened in May 2000 to replace a deteriorating and overcrowded jail in Morristown that was built in the 1930s.
The new jail includes eight housing pods and operates on a direct supervision model.
“The MCCF effectively houses minimum, medium and maximum-security levels in one building, providing a safe, orderly and secure environment with minimal tension,” the audit concluded.