Over the years PLN has reported extensively on the ACA and NCCHC, and the “accreditation” scams they run using taxpayer money to promote mass incarceration and the prison industry. They are not alone; many other groups like the American Jail Association and National Sheriffs’ Association represent the interests of those who benefit from our carceral nation. Perhaps nothing illustrates their corrupt nature better than the federal bribery charges brought against Christopher B. Epps, who served as president of both the ACA and Association of State Correctional Administrators, and commissioner of the Mississippi Dept. of Corrections.
This month’s cover story is part of our ongoing and long-standing coverage of the diverse companies and interests that profit from mass incarceration.
In addition to their inherent corruption and conflicts of interest, or probably because of them, organizations such as the ACA and NCCHC lack transparency. Several years ago I was at a conference on oversight of prisons and jails, and an ACA rep was discussing accreditation as some means of oversight. He was candid when I asked if the ACA had ever denied accreditation to any agency, saying he wasn’t aware of it and even if such a thing had happened, they would not tell anyone because the process itself is secret.
Ironically, the ACA started as a prison reform group and over the decades shifted into its current role as a shill for the prison industrial complex. NCCHC has kept a much lower public profile while peddling its accreditations as a means of shielding prisons and jails from actually having to provide adequate medical care to prisoners. One of the larger scandals is how prisons use taxpayer dollars to purchase accreditations, and the ACA and NCCHC in turn hire prison system insiders to accredit the facilities – a roundabout way of siphoning public funds into their own pockets.
A reminder to our readers to let us know when you win and settle cases: Please send us the complaint and the settlement or verdict so we can report it in PLN. This is a critical area of our news coverage and one that is difficult to report without your help. We are also continuing to experience censorship of PLN and the books we distribute at prisons and jails around the country, usually without receiving any notice. If your subscription to PLN or book orders are censored, please file grievances or administrative complaints and send us copies of the responses so we can take appropriate action. As I write this editorial, PLN has censorship litigation pending against the Florida and Arizona prison systems; the BOP’s ADX supermax facility in Colorado; and jails in Georgia, Virginia, California, Tennessee, Michigan, Illinois and Oklahoma. Our capacity to challenge censorship practices is limited by our staffing and resources, but our goal is to eradicate censorship of PLN as well as the books we distribute and other publications.
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