PRESS RELEASE: Shelby County Jail Earns Level 1 National Accreditation

Wednesday, April 7, 2021


Columbiana, AL – On March 31, 2021, the Shelby County Sheriff’s OfficeNIJO National Accreditation Program for Jails and Detention Facilities (AL) successfully achieved Level I National Accreditation, the highest level of national accreditation through the National Institute for Jail Operations (NIJO).

The national accreditation process demands strict focus and attention for all levels of jail operation.  In Alabama, NIJO’s Legal-Based Jail Guidelines™ are comprised of 15 sections and 595 guidelines to assist administrators with specific operational and policy driven areas. The Shelby County Jail Division were required to review and ensure complicity to these guidelines before undergoing an intensive multi-week auditing process and on-site verification conducted by NIJO’s auditors.  The Jail Division administrators and staff successfully met every compliance requirement and are to be commended for their commitment and dedication to operating their facility.

“Five minutes into the inspection you could tell this was a facility that was operated the right way,” stated NIJO Inspector, Joshua Arnold. “The staff are proud of their facility and take great pride in the work they accomplish day in and day out. The inmates know what is expected from them from the staff and they respond accordingly. As a result, a safe and positive environment has been created. The Shelby County Jail is one of the finest correctional facilities I have inspected.”

Historical statistics show counties that actively participate with the NIJO Legal-Based Jail Guidelines™ accompanied with the inspection or accreditation program account for 28-33% of jail liability losses, compared to the national average of 71%, a significant decrease and savings for those participating counties.

Shelby County SO Earns NIJO Accreditation in March 2021Shelby County Sheriff’s Office joins an elite list of jails that have reached a Level 1 Accreditation. When Sheriff Samaniego saw that the jail scored 100% on the core NIJO standards, he stated, “This reaccreditation is a reflection of all the hard work that the staff and all of the Jail Deputies do every day here at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.”

Shelby County’s commitment to operating its detention facility within compliance requirements of the Legal-Based Guidelines™ has enhanced jail operations, increased professionalism, and proactively served to protect against liability and other risk management issues.

Tate McCotter, NIJO Executive Director, explained,

“There are few professions which are as volatile and subject to change as corrections.  In order to be compliant with the law and run a constitutionally safe facility, jail administrators must be proactive and stay ahead of the curve, constantly updating policies and procedures, looking for ways that safety and security might be compromised.  Accreditation benefits the jail staff, the inmates, and the entire public.  For most counties, the jail is the largest liability in county government, and the process itself becomes a significant risk management and liability defense.”

McCotter explained the recognition reflects far more than a plaque on the wall for Shelby County Jail. “It represents much-sustained effort, dedication, and consistency by their administration and staff to run a constitutionally safe facility. Shelby County should be very proud.”




The National Institute for Jail Operations (NIJO) was formed as the primary resource dedicated to serve those that operate jails, detention, and correctional facilities.  Recognizing the enormous liability an increasing litigation facing administrators, NIJO provides a compilation of legal-based resources and information for agencies to make facilities safer and more secure, proactively defend against frivolous litigation and protect against adverse publicity and liability.


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