In an environment like a jail or prison, the first thing that may come to your mind is security. How do we keep workers, visitors, and prisoners safe? The answer is technology. CCTV, access control, and a tight knit network of communication between staff makes these facilities function properly on a day to day basis. The contractors that install and maintain these systems are in a very specialized niche. As time goes on and technology evolves – as well as jails – contractors must follow suit to meet the latest challenges. 

With the permanence of concrete walls, an unpredictable amount of inmates, and various external factors, installations need to be well-planned and highly robust, all while being flexible enough to change when needed. Contractors are designing and installing everything from wireless guard safety systems to fire alarm systems within these facilities. It’s not just the design and install in a highly secure environment that is important, it is also the testing of those systems to ensure they are nothing short of perfection. 

Minimum to Maximum Security

In minimum security facilities where inmates have more freedom to move around the campus, perimeter and access control require a robust surveillance system. Also, the housing units within those walls, such as dormitory-style and multi-person units, don’t demand the high security level that is applied to the individual cells of a maximum or administrative segregation security facility. Maximum security sites typically require a central command center where officers monitor the housing units, each containing approximately 50 individual cells. Integration of life safety systems—including smoke detectors in return air ducts to identify potential fire hazard, as well as the cell security conditions—are monitored at the housing unit control room and in the central command and control center.

Automated Responses vs. Monitor Bank

In previous years, officers kept constant watch of a monitor bank, displaying views from 24 or 36 cameras. After hours of watching those screens, inattention could lead to an incident going unnoticed. Today’s surveillance systems employ exception-based alarms. If motion is detected, an alert calls attention to a specific camera from the video wall. Outside, a typical facility has perimeter security on fences and walls as well as video for assessment and tracking. A pan-tilt-zoom camera can assess and track the individual or incident until it is addressed or the individual is apprehended. That system is integrated with the intelligent video management system.

Installation & Back-Up 

As cabling runs through concrete walls and may need to be accessed or replaced decades later, it should be run through conduit and NEMA-standard enclosures. Early design and planning is paramount before construction begins. Once the concrete is poured, the system conduit and back boxes won’t be easy to install.  Behind all of the technology, redundancy is crucial. A security system requires a backup system. All of that should be supported by an uninterrupted power supply so systems continue to operate during power loss, which is critical.

The Importance of  Security Systems In Jails & Prisons

  • Improved visual coverage – Many prisons and correctional facilities are expansive, consisting of a variety of different areas, all of which require close monitoring. While guards and officers can’t be everywhere at once, security cameras can provide continuous coverage of an entire facility.
  • Monitor inmate activity – The constant presence of surveillance cameras helps officers to spot suspicious inmate activity, and can prevent prison incidents from getting out of hand.
  • Provide visual evidence  –Archived surveillance footage is an extremely valuable resource for investigations of prison incidents.
  • Maintain order in common areas – Locations where large groups of inmates convene, such as dining and recreational areas, necessitate tight surveillance from multiple security cameras.
  • Reduce the frequency of assaults – In prisons and correctional facilities, tension is high, and fights are inevitable. Security cameras work to deter such behavior and also help in analyzing incidents of violence.
  • Safer transport  Security cameras installed in hallways and throughout cell blocks provide an enhanced level of safety when inmates and others are escorted through the facility.
  • Enhanced search capabilities  Digital surveillance technology allows video footage to be archived and stored on digital video recorders and hard-drives rather than bulky cassette tapes. Searching footage is significantly easier and more efficient in digital format.
  • Remote video monitoring – With a networked digital surveillance system, users can access the footage remotely over the internet. Authorized users are able to view multiple camera feeds from their personal computers, rather than a lone monitoring room within the prison or correctional facility.

Low Voltage Solutions has experience in designing and installing security systems within jails and correctional facilities – as well as other government facilities. Get in touch with us here to talk more about our work and your next project!