Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Winston Correctional Facility Receives Long Awaited Accreditation

Winston County received some good news on Monday as Warden Neal Higgason and Sheriff Jason Pugh
informed County Supervisors that the Winston Choctaw County Regional Correctional Facility (WCCRCF) had attained its accreditation by the American Correctional Association.

Pugh and Higgason traveled to Tampa, Florida last week and over the weekend to meet with ACA officials in a hearing prompted by issues found in the Spring of 2013 at the facility. After meeting with an ACA panel and reviewing improvements at the facility, a three year accreditation of the correctional facility was granted.

An accreditation audit by ACA revealed documentation issues within WCCRCF. These issues ultimately led to a probationary period for the facility. At that time, Sheriff Pugh indicated that the issues at the facility were not security related but were tied to lack of documentation. Actions by Pugh and the Board of Supervisors led to Higgason’s appointment as Warden.

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.

A preliminary audit of the facility by ACA in November brought praise for the improvements at the facility and indicated that WCCRCF was on track to attain its three year accreditation. 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.

This weekend’s actions by ACA provides accreditation for a three year period and allows the local facility to continue to house state inmates which is critical to the financial viability of WCCRCF.

WCCRCF opened in 1999 and houses a maximum of 380 inmates.