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Prefabricated Steel Prison Cells

What is prefabricated prison cell?

Prefabricated jail cells, also known as modular jail systems or self-contained prison cells are manufactured and shipped to construction sites. The prefabricated jail cell is ready for installation with all the necessary features, including lights, toilets, sinks, bunks and utility access holes.

Prefabricated cells are made from a heavy gauge, corrosion-resistant steel. They can be used in place of traditional constructions that use masonry, and later outfitted with all the required elements. The prefabricated detention cells are placed by cranes after being transported in trucks. For multi-story buildings, modular units can be stacked one on top of the other.

Prefabricated detention cell benefits

Time. There are efficiencies gained because each unit is manufactured in a factory. The production of each jail cell can be done at the same time as the construction work is being carried out. This allows for a time saving compared with sequential scheduling.

Space. The steel wall panels are lighter than concrete. Prefabricated jail units can be used to solve space problems on construction sites.

The foundation requirements. Steel prefabricated cells are lighter than concrete ones, allowing them to be used with less foundations.

Process streamlined. As soon as construction begins, vendors will have to coordinate less because prefabricated prison cells include many features. Construction managers won't have to coordinate many vendors or contractors for furniture, finishing, installers and construction materials.

What are some of the drawbacks to prefabricated cells?

Cost. Cost. The difference is less if you factor in the time saved by construction crews.

Shipping. The majority of prefabricated prison cells are made in the southern states of America, which means that freight can be expensive depending on how far they have to travel. Four units can fit in a semi-truck, but if there are 50, the costs will add up.

Carbon footprint. The carbon footprint of structural steel is one of the largest of all construction materials, and much greater than that of concrete. For every ton steel, about a ton greenhouse gas is released. The units are also transported by road, which produces additional emissions. The traditional construction of jails is generally considered to be a more environmentally friendly construction method.

Sound levels. Steel core walls are louder than traditional masonry walls and can create echos in the entire facility. The echoes of inmates banging on walls, shutting detention doors and shouting create an unwelcoming atmosphere for the other prisoners and officers.

There is less flexibility. The planning phase for large-scale prison projects may take several years. In the interim, updates can have a significant impact on design. The traditional construction provides more flexibility in adapting to these inevitable changes. If, for example, the HVAC connections in jail cells need to be moved 6" because of system configurations within the mechanical chases, it's impossible to make the changes to the cell if rough-ins have already been cut at the factory.

What is the best time to use prefabricated cells for detention?
It's worthwhile to consider prefabricated cells when time is of essence. They can save six months in a construction schedule. If a government is receiving grant funds that must be used by a deadline, the time saved could prove beneficial. Some circumstances require a quicker finish, such as the urgent need to deal with overcrowding and pressing safety concerns for inmates due to degrading building conditions.

It may also make sense to use prefabricated cells in an area that is densely populated, such as the downtown or near other nearby buildings. Each cell is easily lifted from a semi-truck and placed in the desired location, minimizing noise and disturbance to nearby properties.

Portable cells for jails are usually used only in new construction. They can be difficult to integrate into existing facilities.

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