“Working in an occupied facility can be challenging, but working in an occupied corrections facility is especially challenging,” notes Granger Construction Justice and Corrections Market Segment Leader Todd Butler. “Not only do you need to consider the safety of you team, but there is also an extra level of detail required in the planning process to ensure occupants’ safety and security throughout the project.”

For those preparing to start construction on an occupied corrections space, here is a list of top ten planning tips Butler suggests:

  1. Identify interior and exterior secure perimeter boundaries at each phase and area of work.
  2. Review camera locations to identify any potential blind spots and locations where you may need to install temporary security cameras during construction.
  3. Review construction paths of access to the site and work areas and identify controls to separate construction and construction access points from facility operations.
  4. Temporary separations need to meet security and fire rating requirements.
  5. Create a system for inventory (check-in/check-out) of tools when working in populated locations.
  6. Review operational paths of access (administrative and corrections) against construction logistics, access routes and secure perimeter.
  7. Create a system for conducting background checks on all construction personnel and clearly spell out this process prior to bidding work.
  8. Create a badging system for easily identifying and tracking construction personnel.
  9. Establish a plan for communicating any emergencies, disruptions or deviations to the published plan between construction and operations staff.
  10. Review paths of egress for both construction, administrative and operations staff; publish routes and practice scenarios.

Corrections personnel and the construction team need to clearly communicate what areas need to remain secure and where the secure perimeter begins and ends. They also need to identify what physical barriers will exist to maintain security. Is it a wall, a fence? There are certain security standards that need to be maintained (these are set by the bureau of adult detention). You need to consider not only how to contain inmates, but how to ensure everyone’s safety during construction.

For example, on a recent renovation and addition project at Kent County’s Juvenile Detention Center the Granger team took the following security measures:

  • Creating a temporary intake/admissions area for processing new inmates
  • Installing numerous temporary security and fire rated partitions to separate construction from inmates
  • Adding temporary cameras to address blind spots
  • Creating temporary controlled openings that were tied into the security electronics system
  • Temporarily relocating employee entrances, installing site fencing and establishing multiple construction entrances

At Kent County our team also created a detailed logistics plan that guided us through each project phase. This plan included color coding to help differentiate between types of uses for each space and marked any security checkpoints or necessary temporary boundaries that needed to be created and maintained. Creating this plan involved collaboration between the facility occupants and our team, with multiple meetings to discuss things like how the inmates move through the facility and what areas they use when.

Some locations may not be completely secure perimeters but are secure check points. For example, at Kent County, there was a corridor space that needed to be shared between construction and corrections staff. To ensure security and safety, the team needed to develop a communication protocol for any time this corridor was in use. For example, any time there was occupancy movement within this corridor, the corrections staff would lock all adjacent doors, and any construction team members working in connecting spaces knew they needed to wait in place until the doors were unlocked again. The team also know that there were certain times of the day they could not be in this space due to occupancy needs.

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