LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Corrections is expected to be re-accredited by the American Correctional Association (ACA) after the initial results of an audit suggest the jail is meeting core standards despite facing serious challenges.

A team of auditors flew into Louisville on Sunday night and started digging through records Monday morning. John Sargent Jr., Ph.D., and Julie Salmi presented their preliminary findings to jail and other city leaders Wednesday afternoon. Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton called the process “exhausting” and said the auditors “left no stone unturned.”

Metro Corrections was first accredited by the ACA in 2015. To keep that status, the jail needs to be re-accredited every three years. Bolton said the ACA accreditation is considered “the gold standard by which jails and prisons are measured.” It is difficult to pass and usually reserved for prisons.

“We are now, I believe, the only accredited jail facility in the state of Kentucky,” Bolton said.

The auditors evaluated the jail on 153 standards, 47 of which are mandatory and 106 are considered non-mandatory. The core standards include safety, security, inmate care and programs, justice and corrections management. Bolton said the auditors interviewed staff, toured every jail building, reviewed records and maintenance issues, and looked at how the jail uses chemicals, restrains, use of force, medical care and much more.

Sargent announced Wednesday the jail was compliant with all 47 mandatory standards.

“That is excellent, so congratulations on that,” Sargent said as the conference room erupted in a round of applause.

Of the remaining 106 non-mandatory standards, one did not apply to Metro Corrections. So the jail was evaluated on 105 standards. It was compliant with 101 and failed to meet four. Auditors noted the high inmate population and overcrowded conditions. Those factors put strains on the plant’s facility and resources, which is why some of the standards were not met.

“They were not designed to today’s standards,” said Bolton about the aging, limited facilities. “Some of those standards we’re just not going to pass because the architectural standards are different now.”

Being ACA accredited is not required to operate, and it does not impact any funding. However, Bolton said the initial results validate the hard work he sees on a daily basis at the jail.

“Given all the challenges, all the overcrowding, all the opioid issues that we deal with here in the jail, mental health issues that we deal with in the jail – we’re running a very, very tight, very good operation,” he said.

Metro Corrections FOP president Tracy Dotson was at Wednesday’s meeting and credits the dedicated officers for the positive audit, despite facing ongoing safety issues.

“The jail leadership does not pass ACA accreditation," he said. "It’s the frontline staff."

Dotson said it’s reaffirming to the officers working in tough conditions that they’re doing a good job, even though everything is not perfect.

“No matter what, our guys are going to do their job even when it becomes difficult, even when it becomes the way that it’s been the past couple of years,” Dotson said.

Bolton said the audit cost around $10,000. The auditors will write up the official report in two weeks. Metro Corrections will then have two weeks to respond with a plan of action on its non-compliant standards. Finally, the report and response will go to the ACA commission for a presentation. Bolton expects the re-accreditation will be official in January 2018.

In a press release from Metro Corrections, Mayor Greg Fischer provided this statement:

This is an important achievement that affirms Metro Corrections’ commitment to the highest level of professionalism. By meeting the rigorous standards of the ACA, Corrections’ staff and leaders have demonstrated again that they are not only capable of working at the highest levels of competency and dedication, but are committed to doing so. And our community is the better for that.

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