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County Jail Security: 5 Ways Facility Managers Can Promote a Safe Environment

In the United States, county jails are an integral part of the criminal justice system. These facilities allow law enforcement officials to uphold the law, provide penalties for illegal behavior and ensure that offenders are brought to justice. The most successful jails offer safe, secure and humane spaces where inmates can await their trials or serve short sentences.

In order to ensure functionality of county jails, facility managers must create strong maintenance programs that maintain crucial assets and infrastructure. This week, we’re taking a look at five ways that jail facility managers use proactive building management to promote safety and security of facility staff and inmates.

How to Promote Safety and Security in County Jail Buildings

1. Facility managers take care of jail assets, infrastructure and construction budgets.

During the year, county jails are in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As a result, these facilities often experience significant wear-and-tear. A common challenge for jail facility managers is updating, replacing and caring for heavily-used infrastructure — including plumbing, lighting, electricity, locking mechanisms, and heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems. For these assets, facility managers are in charge of weighing preventative maintenance measures against available budgets. The right budgeting techniques can potentially save a significant amount of money, especially on costly fixes of large distribution systems.

Download Now - Guide to County Government Facility Maintenance and Management

2. Facility managers ensure compliance with building codes, inspections and regulations.

Statewide standards, inspection programs and building codes are necessary aspects of operating a successful jail. This is because jails are considered high-risk environments, and the likelihood of a crisis is much higher than that of other government-run facilities. Since jail facilities are prone to violence, overcrowding, contraband, security equipment breakdowns and other hazards, it’s important for facility managers to utilize protective measures to reduce the likelihood of injury or death. Building codes protect both people and assets, and help reduce property and financial losses. Jail facility managers and construction teams are responsible for understanding and applying building code requirements to attain proper approval from building code and safety officials. 

3. Facility managers oversee the installation and maintenance of safety and security assets.

A primary function of a jail is to safely and humanely hold individuals while they await their court appearance or until they are otherwise released. While in custody, inmates must be protected and have a right to a safe living environment. Facility managers contribute to this objective by providing housing areas that suit inmates’ basic needs. Facility managers also work with security departments to help maintain security-related systems within the jail, including security cameras, door locks, body scanners and even devices that can screen inmates’ mail for contraband. Facility managers also oversee safety-related assets and protocols, including emergency generators, fire alarms, fire suppression systems, extinguishers and emergency preparedness procedures.

4. Facility managers help manage sightlines and reduce blind spots in jail facilities.

A sightline is an unobstructed line of sight between correctional officers and inmates. Good sightlines are essential to promoting safety and security in a jail. Ideally, correctional officers should be able to directly view all inmate areas from a fixed post without having to use a camera. Poor sightlines can become a liability, especially when a jail’s layout has blind spots, or if an officer is required to move around in order to take advantage of better sightlines. Facility managers help inform jail layout improvements and make suggestions for updating outdated cell block models and jail designs.

5. Facility managers implement OSHA worker safety practices that keep occupants safe.

Inmates are not the only ones who use county jail facilities. These buildings are also utilized by correctional officers, kitchen staff, maintenance personnel, custodians, nurses, vendors, educators, volunteers and other workers. An unsafe facility can put staff members and community members at risk. This is why facility managers utilize Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) worker safety practices. For example, facility managers must take steps to reduce slips and falls on wet flooring. They also must provide personal protective equipment (PPE), keep safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals, oversee electrical exposure, manage lockout/tagout procedures and other maintenance-related safety practices. 

Free eBook for County Government Facility Managers

County government buildings (including jails) that implement proactive standards and inspection programs generally experience a wide variety of benefits, including reduced liability exposure, improved conditions and greater consistency in operations. To help county government building facility managers ensure the longevity of their facilities, AkitaBox has created the 2019 Guide to County Government Facility Maintenance and Management.

Discover innovative insight on facilities technology, asset management best practices and cross-collaboration between departments. Plus, gain access to free, downloadable content - from work order templates to handy checklists. Read more about the e-book’s contents here.

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