Thursday, November 14, 2013

WCCRCF Looks at Full Compliance of Facility

Big changes have been taking place at the Winston Choctaw County Regional Correctional Facility over the past few months after an accreditation audit by the American Correctional Association (ACA) in the Spring of 2013 revealed documentation issues within WCCRCF. These issues ultimately led to a probationary period for the facility. Failure to correct these issues could have led to a loss of accreditation of the facility. WCCRCF houses state inmates as well as local prisoners and a loss of accreditation would result in the removal of  the state inmates and state revenue necessary to operate the facility.

Warden Neal Higgason took the position as warden of the facility in August and brought in Assistant Warden Patricia Whitcomb to assist in correcting any deficiencies. Along with Sheriff Jason Pugh and the Winston County Board of Supervisors, staff began making procedural changes immediately.

Those efforts have paid off as an ACA Auditor inspected the facility this week and found WCCRCF and its procedures to be in full compliance. The auditor inspected the physical plant at the facility, interviewed staff and inmates and inspected ACA files as part of the review process.

The American Correctional Association administers accreditation programs for all correctional facilities in the state of Mississippi and for most facilities across the country. As part of that process, ACA conducts an on-site standards compliance audit.

Local officials will have to attend a panel hearing with ACA in Tampa, Florida in February to maintain the facility's full accreditation but this week's monitor visit was a major step toward removing the probationary status of the facility.
Sheriff Pugh and Warden Higgason discuss WCCRCF
audit results

Higgason stated, " We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our staff and the assistance of the Mississippi Department of Corrections in improving the facility."

Sheriff Jason Pugh echoed Higgason's comments, " I want to thank our staff for their diligence. Our staff has been through some major changes and not always pleasant changes to accomplish the improvements that have been made."

WCCRCF opened in 1999 and houses a maximum of 380 inmates. ACA accreditations are for a period of three years and the last accreditation was in 2010.