Chief Corrections Officer Wendy Peterson

Clallam jail gets perfect score in accreditation review

PORT ANGELES — With a perfect score in a recent review, the Clallam County jail will become the first county jail in the state to be accredited by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, Sheriff Bill Benedict announced.

The 120-bed jail passed a on-site review with 100 percent compliance Tuesday.

“I am obviously thrilled,” Benedict said in a Wednesday interview.

“It was virtually a perfect accreditation inspection. The were no discrepancies turned up whatsoever.”

A Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, or WASPC, accreditation committee will formalize the accreditation by a vote this fall, Clallam County Chief Corrections Officer Wendy Peterson said.

“It’s pretty exiting,” said Peterson, who replaced retired jail Superintendent Ron Sukert on June 30 and played a key role in the accreditation process.

The WASPC review was conducted by jail managers and law enforcement professionals from around the state. It examined 148 standards for best practices and policies for the safe and effective operation of a correctional facility, officials said.

Examples of those standards include prisoner searches and documentation, medical care, food service, inmate complaints and grievance protocol, records management, emergency response and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Prison Rape Elimination Act.

“Another big area is training,” Benedict said.

Accreditation requires jails to be transparent and to agree to follow a set of rules, Benedict said.

“It’s an acknowledgement that those are the rules that you’re going to live and abide by, and you’re actually proving that that’s how you do business,” the third-term sheriff said.

“I think it reflects on the integrity of the people running the jail.”

The accreditation process was begun by Sukert and Benedict several years ago and was finalized by Peterson.

Peterson began updating the jail’s policy manual last August and disseminated a new manual to staff in January. The former corrections sergeant coordinated a mock accreditation process that included an on-site review June 30.

The WASPC review occurred Tuesday.

“It was pretty much a team effort to get it done,” Peterson said Wednesday.

Peterson said it is rare to have no recommendations or findings in an on-site assessment.

“We’re quite proud of that,” Peterson said.

The South Correctional Entity in Des Moines, a multi-jurisdictional jail for misdemeanor offenders, became the first correctional facility in the state to be accredited by WASPC in 2016.

The Clallam County jail is the first county jail to pass an accreditation review in the two-year-old program for correctional facilities.

“I expect that many counties will follow, just because it’s a way of maintaining the public trust in what we do,” Benedict said.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office received WASPC accreditation for its professional standards in 2009 and was re-accredited in 2013.

The Port Angeles Police Department was accredited by WASPC in 2015 and the Sequim Police Department followed in 2016, according to a roster of accredited agencies.

In addition to building public confidence and administrative and operational effectiveness, accreditation reduces liability and may lower insurance costs, WASPC officials said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Sheriff Bill Benedict

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