Prison Construction Trends: States Building Fewer but Larger Facilities

By Dallao, Mary | Corrections Today, April 1997 | Go to article overview

Prison Construction Trends: States Building Fewer but Larger Facilities


Dallao, Mary, Corrections Today


As often as possible, Jim O'Neill, deputy superintendent for the Anne Arundel County Detention Center in Maryland, dons a hard hat and goes out to visit the construction site of the county's 450-bed minimum/medium security facility. He loves watching the pieces of the facility fall slowly into place.

"I get really energized by this," he says. "The last time I visited, they were putting up steel girders. It's pretty exciting to watch."

In many ways, Anne Arundel County's building project is like hundreds of others across the nation. Reacting to increased prison crowding caused by longer sentences, tougher approaches in dealing with violent offenders and the criminal justice system's inability to keep pace with the nation's crime rate, the county in 1989 began a carefully planned building program designed to add 1,000 new beds to the system by the year 2000.

Anne Arundel County was ahead of its time. In 1989, the U.S. prison system was in the midst of a steady population upsurge. And the county's decision to build resulted from projections that the population would continue to increase, rather than a response to court-ordered mandates or grantfunding initiatives, which since have prompted many other jurisdictions to plan new prison facilities.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that from 1980 to 1995, the total state and federal prison inmate population had grown by 242 percent, from 329,821 to 1,127,132. This was due in part to public-supported "tough on crime" initiatives, begun about five years ago, which are locking up habitual violent offenders for longer periods of time, often without the possibility of parole or good time. Yet, paradoxically, while U.S. prison populations have skyrocketed with changes in crime-fighting approaches, the national crime rate has remained relatively stable. In fact, the FBI Crime Index Rate for the United States has shown several decreases in the national crime rate since 1991.

Also responsible for the recent influx of inmates is the U.S. Department of Justice's (DO J) Violent Offender Incarceration/Truth-in-Sentencing Incentive Grant Program, which allocates formula grants to states interested in building or expanding correctional facilities. Grants are awarded to states on the condition that they implement truth-in-sentencing laws, which ensure that violent offenders serve substantial portions of their sentences. Approximately $10 billion has been authorized for this program through fiscal year 2000, according to a report by the DOJ's Corrections Program Office.

National Trends

As states scramble to stay one step ahead of the population boom, an analysis of national trends shows that U.S. prisons under construction today are vastly different from facilities built in the past. According to statistics compiled by Corrections Compendium, a criminal justice watchdog publication, prisons scheduled for completion in 1997 will contain a greater number of beds in higher security areas -- more specifically, medium-security units. And their overall capacities will be larger.

Jack Chapman, manager of justice facilities for Turner Construction, says it's more cost-effective to build one 2,000-bed facility than two 1,000-bed prisons.

Chapman and Stephen Donohoe, vice president of criminal justice for CRSS Constructors, also suggest that fast-track construction management, a methodology popular in the 1970s that enabled one part of a project to proceed before another was even designed, is making a comeback. A construction company often will award contracts for such jobs as the installation of site utilities, site cleaning and housing unit construction while the architect's design team still is developing other aspects of the project.

According to Donohoe, fast-track construction management gets beds on-line quickly, and cuts costs for states receiving multi-year funding, which often renders them financially unable to award a single contract for the entire facility in the first year. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Prison Construction Trends: States Building Fewer but Larger Facilities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.