American Correctional Association Resources:

The American Correctional Association is the largest corrections association in the world. Founded in 1870, as the National Prison Association, this organization of prison professionals had a prison-reform orientation. More recently, the organization evolved into -- in practice if probably not by design -- a faciliator of prison expansion.

The ACA is probably most well known for its controversial accreditation program. As the Boston Globe summarized on June 20, 2001: "To prison chiefs and jail sheriffs nationwide, it is considered the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for corrections... But a closer look at the accreditation program of the American Correctional Association... shows that it has routinely accredited facilities beset by charges of abuse or poor conditions."

In August 2001, a counter-conference was held to protest the American Correctional Association. The domain for the event ( is no longer under the control of counter-conference organizers, but we gathered some other relevant resources on this site. (The content from the old counter-conference site did come back briefly at a new URL:, but then it disappeared again.)

Stop the ACA Conference Factsheets

Stop the ACA Conference Proceedings

  • Elizabeth Alexander [MP3] Director of ACLU's National Prison Project, speaking about her experience with the ACA in legal proceedings against prisons (audio, by Nick Cooper, Houson IMC)
  • Jason Ziedenberg [MP3]of the Justice Policy Institute (audio, by Nick Cooper, Houston IMC)

Stop the ACA Conference Media Coverage

  • Philly IMC interview with ACA President Betty Green [MP3] An IMC journalist had an opportunity on Wednesday (8/15/01) to speak at length with the President of the American Correctional Association. Topics discussed include the privatization of prisons, the growing prison population in the United States, the death penalty, and the ACA's controversial accreditation process. 24:38 min.

Books that discuss the ACA

Articles that discuss the ACA

  • Suffolk Jail Audit Group is Faulted: Critics to Demand New Review Panel by Francie Latour, Boston Globe, June 20, 2001. (Includes a quick national overview)
  • South Carolina Cuts ACA Accredication at Four State Prisons, by Lonnie Burton, Prison Legal News, November 2003, p. 8. (discusses the impact of ACA accreditation on insurance rates and lawsuits, and suggests some research leads for how the standards have "evolved" over time in response to prison industry pressure).
  • Prisons might lose accreditation by Clif LeBanc, The State (South Carolina), April 14, 2003. (South Carolina considers skiping accreditation in order to save funds. Article includes the price paid per prison for accreditation in South Carolina and other states, and estimates as to what the cost of meeting the "standards" are.)
  • The American Correctional Association, A Fraud on Texas Taxpayers, by C. C. Simmons, Prison Legal News September 2004, p. 22.
  • Inside the American Correctional Association, by Silja J.A. Talvi, Prison Legal News, September 2005
  • What's wrong with the ACA? by Elizabeth Alexander, Prison Legal News, September 2005

Last update: March 26, 2022

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