Prisons and correctional facilities require some of the highest levels of security, an evolving challenge that demands a dynamic approach to perimeter security and an up-to-date prison fencing system. Upgraded designs and solutions for these high-threat properties have become more important than ever. Here, we’re taking a closer look at some of the most essential features for an effective prison security fencing system, and why it’s critical to upgrade any current fencing solution that doesn’t meet the mark.
Major Security Challenges Facing Prisons
Given the prevalent dangers posed both within and outside the perimeter of a prison or correctional facility, security must focus on preventing escapes and deterring the exchange of contraband—typically across a large-scale property.
So let’s start there: with the sheer size of a prison or correctional facility’s grounds. Because of how extensive these properties are, securing and monitoring the entire area requires a fencing solution that meets multidimensional needs, from using materials that fortify against breach attempts to integrating surveillance components that enable security personnel to track and surveil all points along the perimeter.
Next, there’s the threat of prisoners seeking to escape, whether via tunneling, cutting, climbing or other forms of attempts. Felons have been known to pursue resourceful methods of breaking free from prison grounds. Prison security fencing systems must be designed and constructed from materials that both safeguard against these efforts and visually deter such attempts in the first place. The higher the risk imposed by the prisoners residing on property, the higher the security threat and the more fortified the fencing solution must be.
In addition, there’s the issue of contraband from individuals who may try to cut through the fencing or throw items over the top. The prison security fencing system must be able to thwart the transmission of prohibited and potentially dangerous goods such as prepaid phones, drugs, weapons and other illicit items from the outside.
Finally, perimeter fencing solutions for high-security properties like prisons and correctional facilities have to account for access points, where various personnel and visitors enter and exit the vicinity. In many cases, these points are not always able to be manned by live security individuals, so it’s important to think about prison security fencing options like automated gates and access controls.
To support a comprehensive security plan that addresses all of these challenges in the most streamlined, effective and risk-prohibitive way, it’s paramount to prioritize upgrades to prison security fencing systems, including some of the vital design considerations and features discussed next.
Prison Security Fencing Construction
A prison fencing system that fully secures the perimeter of the property must encompass materials and construction methods that maximize its capabilities. It should be made from strong, durable materials that resist cutting and other forms of penetration, as well as spacing elements designed to eliminate footholds for climbing. Some of the most common fencing types for prisons and correctional facilities include:
- Chain link: This is a prevalent type of fencing for prisons and correctional facilities. On its own, it may not feature the properties required of a high-security facility, but it can be combined with options like added welded wire mesh and topped with barbed or razor wire for a greater level of fortification. Typically constructed from galvanized steel, chain link fencing can be coated in vinyl for extra protection and is both weather-resistant and economical.
- Welded wire mesh: Designed with proper spacing to safeguard against climbing and resist penetration from standard hand tools, this is a particularly effective option for prison security fencing. It can be installed with a vertical or horizontal mesh alignment, and the material can be mounted onto existing chain link systems for added security. Some prisons and correctional facilities opt for a combination of welded wire mesh, expanded metal and louvered panels to create perimeter fencing that requires highly sophisticated means for forced entry.
- Precast concrete: Precast concrete walls are nearly impossible to scale, are bullet resistant and can withstand winds of hurricane proportions. This is possibly the most impenetrable form of fencing, making it a valuable option for prisons that warrant the highest level of security.
Height Specifications & Added Security Features
To deter scaling and the propulsion of contraband, vertical height must be a consideration for any prison security fencing system. The greater the height of a fence, the more challenging it will be for trespassers and prohibited items to breach. Therefore, high-security facilities like prisons and correctional facilities should opt for fencing panels that reach a height of eight, ten or twelve feet.
Designing a prison perimeter fence with maximum effectiveness means combining height specifications with other security elements, such as:
- Barbed wire or barbed tape: Adding strands of barbed wire to the top of a security fence, at an angle facing away from the interior, increases the degree of difficulty and time involved in broaching the structure. There’s also the option to leverage stainless steel barbed tape at the top or bottom for a similar form of diversion.
- Concertina wire: This is wire that features sharp blades, and it’s appropriate when an extremely high level of security is needed. Concertina wire has the potential to cause more serious and even fatal damage to any intruder attempting to breach it.
- Omission of a top rail: Any elimination of handholds for climbers makes a fencing structure that much more difficult to scale. A coil spring can be substituted where a top rail would normally exist.
- Double row: A second row of fencing is sometimes installed several feet inside the perimeter fence so as to fortify the prison or correctional facility grounds. This makes an attempted intrusion more difficult or involved, giving security more time to respond and thwart the effort.
- Lighting and cameras: Serving as effective visual deterrents, these additions at various perimeter points make visibility and surveillance accessible to the security team, who can respond more quickly to efforts of intrusion or transmission of contraband.
- Automated gates and access controls: One of the most fundamental factors for securing prisons and correctional facilities is integrated access control. Smart and convenient access control elements support the facility’s ability to track people and vehicles entering and exiting the secure location.
Prison Fencing Design & Installation
Thoughtfully considering the design, construction and security features discussed here is one very crucial aspect of building or upgrading a secure prison fencing system. Another vital component is ensuring a safe, skilled installation process that accounts for all of the security needs facing the facility. Ultimately, that means partnering with a professional company knowledgeable about high-security fencing products as well as experienced in a variety of installation procedures and construction methods for high-security properties.
Rutkoski Fencing Inc. is an ASIS International Member and maintains installer and trainer certifications from high-security product companies including AMICO® AMIGUARD®, Ameristar Perimeter Security and Betafence Guardian.
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