5 Cost Effective Uses Of Second Hand Containers in Prisons
Whether we like to admit it or not, the corrections sector is a vital part of a functioning society. Crime and punishment have been part of Australia’s history since the first convicts were transferred to penal colonies in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Fast forward a few hundred years and our prison populations (along with the rest of our population) are growing, and the demand for infrastructure is increasing. Second hand containers are an ideal, cost effective way to ease the burden on the State by providing simple, modular, easy to construct building and storage solutions for prisons and correctional institutes.
Here are five examples of how shipping containers have been used for more cost effective building and storage solutions in Australia and around the world. Please note that Gateway Container Sales did not supply the containers used in this blog post and they are merely referenced to demonstrate the amazing flexibility shipping containers have in commercial construction uses.
1. Cellblocks & Prisoner Accommodation
Prison populations are increasing in Australia, as well as internationally, and this trend is unlikely to slow down in the short to medium term. Both male and female prison populations in Victoria are expected to exceed capacity before 2016. Overcrowding in correctional institutes can result in a wide variety of problems including (but not limited to):
- Increased risk of violence (towards both guards and inmates)
- Increased risk of sexual assault
- Increased risk of death
- Increased risk of self harm.
To put it simply, overcrowded prisons are unsafe prisons and traditional prisoner accommodation is expensive. Every additional dollar spent on prisoner accommodation is a dollar that cannot be spent on rehabilitation or crime preventions. This is where shipping container prison cells come in. Used shipping containers can easily be transported to where there is an excess of demand for accommodation, are more cost effective than traditional cell units and can be tailored to specific requirements more easily than existing accommodation units.
Modified shipping container units have other benefits for prisons that are not as obvious to those of us on the outside world. By minimising construction on site there are far higher levels of security, with less workmen on site. All construction takes place in a controlled environment with only the final installation taking place on site. This increases the health and safety for those involved in construction as they are less likely to be in a potentially hazardous prison environment.
Fulham Correctional Centre, Gippsland, Australia
Eighteen second hand containers have been installed which were able to accommodate a total of 54 additional prisoners increasing the capacity of the prison to 863.
Twenty new full time jobs were created with the addition of the container units, while 40 jobs were added during construction. All units are fully self-contained, with their own showers and are used for medium security prisoners.
Beechworth Correctional Centre, Victoria, Australia
The state government has purchased and installed 50 modified shipping containers for a cost of $5 million AUD. Each shipping container prison cell contains a bunk bed for two prisoners.
Langi Kal Kal Prison, Victoria, Australia
Twenty five shipping containers are used to house minimum security prisoners at Langi Kal Kal Prison in Victoria. Units are air conditioned, have toilet facilities and house up to two prisoners per shipping container.
“It’s definitely taken the pressure off and it’s definitely improved because of the decision to procure the shipping containers,” said Corrections Minister Edward O’Donohue.
Mount Gambier Prison, South Australia, Australia
This $22 million AUD project will add 112 beds to the jail using modified shipping containers. Containers are modified with additional doors, windows and internal walls, as well as other standard cell facilities and security features.
“This project represents best value for money with the approved design presenting a 25 per cent cost saving compared with the use of pre-cast concrete,” said Correctional Services Minister Tom Koutsantonis.
Cadell Training Centre, South Australia, Australia
Cadell utilised modified 40 foot shipping containers for its accommodation, association and hallway areas. Housing was constructed from modified shipping containers with container modifications including windows, doors, insulation, heating, plumbing, internal walls and decking. All fittings were prison grade to keep with corrections standards. Each container housed a maximum of 6 cell units.
Shipping container prison cells cost approximately $75,000 AUD per cell, compared to up to $200,000 AUD for traditional cell units. Another benefit is that the modular construction of prisons can be completed in under 6 months, as opposed to up to 12 months for traditional prison cell block building methods.
“If it’s good enough for miners earning over $200,000 a year, it’s damn well good enough for prisoners,” said Correctional Services Minister Tom Koutsantonis.
Rimutaka Prison, New Zealand
New Zealand prisons are forecast to require an extra 5,000 beds by 2018. With this in mind the New Zealand Department of Corrections has begun to utilise modified shipping containers as cells. The Department of Corrections has been working off cell designs used by its Australian counterparts in Western Australia and believes that the per bed cost should work out to be about half the cost of a standard prison cell per inmate.
This cell unit has been designed to hold up to 60 low to medium security prisoners. Twenty three high grade containers have been used to construct the unit, which contains both double and single bunked cells, with each container housing up to three cells. An entry building, recreation room, shower and toilet building were also constructed from shipping containers as part of the project.
The total cost for the Rimutaka Prison project was approximately $4.46m AUD while fencing came to around $1.65m AUD. Maintenance costs have been 34 percent lower than conventional prisons and vandalism has been extremely low according to New Zealand Corrections Minister Judith Collins.
Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
The United States uses a prison system based on second hand containers to house “unlawful combatants” at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay. These units are relatively spartan and consist of containers that are joined end to end with basic steel beds attached to internal mesh walls. Ventilators are added and up to 24 containers are placed opposite each other to make up a cell block. There are 19 cell blocks at the camp, which suggests that modified shipping containers house a population of up to 1000 prisoners.
2. Guard Accommodation
Commonly used in remote mining camps in Australia, “Dongas”, as modified container accommodation units are commonly referred to, make ideal accommodation units for staff. Shipping containers are easy to modify to staff requirements and can easily be constructed safely offsite before being installed where required. Containers can be fitted out as a single “house” or multi person dorm style dwellings as required.
Common modifications include:
- Air conditioning
- Electrical work
- Cupboard space
- Smoke detectors
- Single or double beds
- TVs & entertainment systems
3. Ablution Units
Proper ablution units are a requirement for any new prison block. Prison ablution units can easily be constructed from second hand shipping containers cheaply and effectively. If required they can include:
- Shower and toilet cubicles
- Gas or electric water heating
Often correctional facilities contain workshops for prisoners to learn a trade before they return to the outside world. Shipping containers make ideal custom built workspaces and can be modified to include any additional security requirements to ensure tools are kept safe and secure when not being used.
Custom built container workshops can be constructed for whatever need you have in any size from 10 to 40 feet. These workshops can include:
- Heavy duty workbenches
- Lockable roller doors and secure windows to keep tools away from inmates when not
- Full lighting and electrical fit outs according to Australian safety standards
Second hand containers are ideal for any additional temporary or permanent onsite storage correctional facilities might require for anything from tools to prisoner records. Containers can either be used as is, or modified to suit any special storage requirements your facility might have.
Why Use Second Hand Containers?
- Second hand containers are already being used successfully in Australia, New Zealand and other jurisdictions around the world
- Second hand containers are easy to transport to virtually any site, anywhere in the world due to ISO standard sizes and shapes
- Second hand containers come in a variety of sizes from 10 to 40 foot
- Shipping container buildings are easily scalable to meet the growing needs for prison facilities in Australia
- Second hand containers are rugged, strong and durable, built for rough sea transport and able to handle anything the elements can throw at them
- Shipping containers are cheaper alternative than other mainstream construction and storage methods.
Ready to utilise shipping containers in your correctional facility?
Our team have a wide range of experience in modifying second hand containers for a wide variety of industries in Australia. Contact us now to discuss with our expert team how modified shipping containers can be used in your correctional facility.