Why Successful Correctional Design Is Important

The appearance of a secure and comprehensive correctional building is simple check this. The designers and clients who are responsible for detaining individuals charged with crimes or sentenced to jail face special challenges when designing jails, holding cells and locking up facilities. Wold Architects and Engineers was one of a select few firms recommended by the Minnesota Department of Corrections. These facilities may be highly complex and technically advanced, requiring a process-driven approach.

We advise public clients who are building or renovating secure facilities for correctional purposes to design their project according to the guidelines of the correctional agencies in your state. In this industry, we have seen the failure to collaborate between clients and design firms as well as licensing agencies or Departments of Corrections in your state. It is important to collaborate with clients, design firms and licensing agencies or the Department of Corrections in your state.

For our company, it’s important to partner with firms that are familiar with state-specific design and building codes. After many years of experience and familiarity, it becomes a second nature to ensure that facilities are planned and designed to meet the standards. You may find that if you are in a good relationship with your licensing agency it is easier to request deviations from the standard. With extensive experience with these construction and design standards, the design teams can concentrate more on innovation to lower operating costs, improve staff safety and decrease recidivism.

Designing Correctional Facilities requires expertise

What is the potential risk of not understanding your state’s regulations or standards when designing a prison? In the past, we’ve seen projects that were designed by firms who did not understand or adhere to design standards have problems with construction and layout that prevented these facilities’ functioning as intended. Inmates cannot be housed in jails with too little space or poor sightlines. Insufficient design, jails that don’t meet design standards and increased staffing are all possible issues. Some facilities were downgraded because of design issues.

The size and layout of facilities are often unacceptable. We have seen many facilities that did not meet the minimum size and square footage standard. The criteria must be documented. The design criteria need to be followed, or the space will not be able to be used by the facility in the way intended. It could lead to fewer cell or reduced capacity. The cells should be designed to allow clear visibility from the officer’s position for security or central monitoring. The block’s design could result in increased costs for staffing, and it can also pose safety risks to officers. It is important that the cell layout be designed to allow for efficient and safe inmate and staff movements.

Designing jails with solutions that minimize the need for prisoners to leave where they are housed is another aspect often overlooked. Start by adding rooms to housing units that are used for education, counseling and religious programs. It can be more complex, such as the design of modular housing that can change size in response changes in jail populations. Simple ideas such as providing food and cleaning services in housing units can be overlooked, causing the inmates to feel forced out. It’s possible that a design company with less experience in complex and technically advanced facilities might overlook simple design features. In the end, this can lead to correctional facilities having to employ more people, which can be costly.

It could be that the building did not adhere to standards established by correctional facilities or they requested a specific variance. For example, a facility might go from being a “365 day” holding center to a “90 day” holding center. In order to reduce the amount of time an inmate can be housed at a correctional facility, the Sheriff’s office will have to rent out more beds. Inefficient facilities in your county may also force inmates to be transferred from distant locations to courts close to the crime scene. These factors can increase your operating costs, including bed rental, vehicle rentals, and staff.