Orlando, Florida, 8 January, 2018 — At their 2018 Winter Conference, the American Correctional Association (ACA) formally accredited 11 Mexican penitentiary institutions, including the central offices of the Guanajuato State Prisons Commission, and re-accredited another two facilities. With this announcement, the number of internationally accredited Mexican penitentiary institutions totals 81, making Mexico the leader outside of the United States in international accreditation of penitentiary facilities.
To obtain ACA accreditation, penitentiary institutions must comply with 137 standards in safety, security, order, nutritional and health care, reinsertion programs and activities, administration and management, and justice. Facilities must demonstrate continued compliance with these standards during the three-year accreditation period. Of the 131 penitentiaries surveyed in Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission 2016 National Diagnosis of Penitentiary Supervision, the top 10 highest-ranked facilities are internationally accredited by the ACA or in the process of being accredited, while accredited facilities were ranked on average 12.5% higher than non-accredited facilities. Furthermore, accredited penitentiary institutions have been found to experience reduced incidences of violence among inmates, including fights, riots, and escapes.
Assisting Mexican penitentiaries to achieve international accreditation of their facilities is a cornerstone of support for correctional reform under the Merida Initiative. The program also encompasses training and study tours for prison officials covering topics like transport of high-risk individuals, management of penitentiary institutions, and identification of security threat groups; certification of prison officials; as well as donations of equipment. All activities are designed to complement measures by the Mexican government to provide a safe, secure, and humane environment for inmates, guards, and wardens.