The Secret to Creating a Successful Corrective Facility

From the outside it might seem simple to design a correctional center that is safe and secure website here. Clients from the public and designers of holding facility who are responsible for incarcerating people accused or sentenced face a daunting task.

Wold Architects and Engineers was one of a small number of firms selected by Minnesota Department of Corrections. The firm has developed and sustained successful design processes, not only for complex and challenging buildings in Minnesota, Illinois and Tennessee, but across the entire Midwest.

It is our advice to public sector clients who wish to design or construct a correctional building that is safe and complies with state requirements to incorporate the department of corrections guidelines into your building plans. Often, in our industry, spaces are designed without the involvement of state Departments of Corrections (or other licensing agencies), designers, or clients. In extreme circumstances, excluding such collaboration could lead to increased costs both for the client and designer firm as well as a reduction in licensing levels and beds.

Our company believes that it’s important to partner with firms that are familiarized with design and building requirements of every state. After working together for years, it’s second nature for our firm to make sure the facilities we design or plan comply with these standard. You may find that building a rapport of trust with licensing agencies will help you to make changes easier. It is possible that experienced design teams familiar with construction and design standard can spend more effort on innovations. This will reduce the operational costs of facilities, increase safety for workers and help to decrease recidivism.

The expertise of the designer when designing correctional facility is crucial

What are some of the dangers that come with not knowing and understanding your state’s rules and regulations for designing correctional facilities. According to our analysis, firms that did not understand or follow design standards have had design and build issues. This has prevented Sheriffs’ offices from operating their correctional facilities in the manner they intended. Jails were too small to house inmates, and had poor visibility. Or, they did not meet design standards. In some cases, they also increased the costs of staffing due to not meeting design requirements. In some cases, poor design led to facilities not receiving the licenses they were expected to receive.

We have seen many facilities that are too small or do not meet area and size standards. All dimensions, dayrooms, recreational spaces, programs, and services of a cell are measured by square footage. Specific criteria must be defined for a cell or dayroom as well as recreation spaces, programs, and any other services. The correctional facility will not be able use these spaces in the way they intend if the design does meet the criteria. This can lead to less capacity and unoccupied cell. It is essential that the design of the cells allows for a clear line of sight to be established from any central monitoring or security officer stations. This will allow them to see all areas where prisoner may congregate. If the cell blocks are not designed correctly, it can increase staff costs as well as create safety issues for officers. Staff and prisoners must have efficient, safe movement. In addition, officers need to be able easily access each prison cell in order to perform a quick wellness check.

It is important to reduce the time spent by inmates outside of prison. Solution could be as simple and straightforward as adding meeting spaces to the unit in order to accommodate religious, educational, or counseling programming. It could be complicated, like designing units which will expand or shrink with the changing jail population. We can easily overlook adding janitorial or nutrition services in housing. The inmates won’t have to go outside. This is because if a firm does not have experience designing these highly technical structures, it may overlook such simple but vital elements. If the correctional facility has to hire additional staff to deal with the increased workload, this will be a major cost for jails.

In some cases, buildings that do not achieve the desired level of license can be a result of either failing to meet correctional facility standards, or by failing to apply for a project variance. Downgrading, for example, could mean that the building goes from a 365day holding facility to a 90day one. If they reduce the amount of time a prison may hold an inmate for, the Sheriff’s Department must hire bed space elsewhere. While running an inefficient county prison, it may be necessary for inmates to travel between these facilities as well the courts that are located near where the crime was committed. The factors listed above can lead to increased costs for bed rentals, vehicles and personnel. These factors can also lead to potential risks.

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