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Cost-Effective Jail Design & Operation

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Magazine Volume: 66 Issue: 4 Dated: July 2004 Pages: 90-94
David M. Parrish
Date Published
July 2004
5 pages
The evolution of the jail system in Hillsborough County (Tampa), FL, over the past 25 years is a case history that illustrates the importance of good design and operating practices in achieving more efficient and effective jail facilities.
In Hillsborough County, the same commander has been in place since 1981, and a consistent staff has been involved in the design, construction, and operation of approximately 1.5 million square feet of jail space during a 25-year period. This has enabled staff to build upon and learn from their experience in assessing how various jail designs, staffing, and operations have worked. For 7 years, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Detention Department has used the direct-supervision dormitory as the prototypical housing pod. With only minor modifications, it has been replicated and built incrementally as needed. With 2,304 beds already in place at the Falkenburg Road Jail, the next 2 phases of construction will result in a 4,000-bed facility on that site by 2010. The Falkenburg Road Jail, with its standard direct-supervision dormitory design, has inexpensive, free-standing buildings inside a large double-fenced compound. The jail's buildings, which are located close to one another, are connected by walkways, which do not have to be heated or air conditioned. Pods are one story. Each pod has a time-out cell, which provides the officer flexibility and control in dealing with inmates. Each pod has three video visitation stations and a secure recreation yard. Open-faced sleeping cubicles that hold four inmates each are located around the perimeter of the pod. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has developed a cost-effective, staff-efficient jail system through a commitment to direct supervision, a large jail site, a dormitory design for the general population, a ratio of 10-percent confinement space to 90-percent general population housing, and the use of civilians in many positions. Under these practices, staff efficiency has increased 53 percent since 1994.