Choosing the Right Security Alarm System for a Correctional Facility

Correctional facilities serve an extremely important role in society. They are tasked with keeping the world’s most dangerous people separated from the rest of the population.

By default, these facilities are expected to have the very best security measures on the market.

This starts with the security alarm system.

Every correctional facility is unique – with its own set of challenges. In other words, choosing a security alarm system is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. The best results start with a microscopic understanding of the facility, staff, training procedures, etc. to determine the best solution.

In this article, we want to discuss how decision-makers can choose the right correctional facility security system.

The Unique Demands of Correctional Facilities

Correctional facilities have extremely complex security demands in managing an incarcerated population. The necessity to balance control, safety, and humane treatment calls for the most sophisticated security systems money can buy.

As a baseline requirement, the facility must mitigate risks related to escape attempts, unauthorized access, internal conflicts, and external threats – while maintaining the welfare of both inmates and staff.

Moreover, correctional facility security systems must adhere to regulatory compliance and possibly integrate with wider governmental or jurisdictional networks. To meet these requirements, there must be a meticulously designed infrastructure, which is both implemented and managed to navigate the fast-evolving nature of correctional settings.

Essential Features of Correctional Facility Security Alarm Systems

Every security system in a correctional facility is unique, but there are many features that apply across the board. These include (but are not limited to):

Intrusion Detection

Intrusion detection is a core component of security alarm systems of correctional facilities – they provide a critical line of defense against unauthorized access and potential breach incidents.

The detection systems work around the clock to secure the perimeters and internal areas. The system is designed to promptly identify and trigger alarms and intercom systems to any attempts of intrusion, whether they be escape efforts from within or unauthorized entry attempts from outside.

Today’s intrusion detection systems are designed to distinguish between false alarms and genuine incidents, enabling swift responses from prison staff.

Perimeter Lighting

Perimeter lighting is table stakes in correctional facility security. These lights serve a dual purpose of both deterrence and detection. By illuminating the external boundaries of a facility, the light acts as a fundamental deterrent against unauthorized access or escape attempts, underscoring the facility’s preparedness. Strategically placed lighting enhances the efficacy of security alarm systems by creating better visibility for surveillance cameras and patrolling staff, especially during nighttime or adverse weather conditions.

Integration Capability

This is a newer feature – and an extremely important one in modern prisons to orchestrate a comprehensive security environment. Integration enables the confluence of various security components—such as intrusion detection, surveillance cameras, access control, and communication systems—into a unified platform.

This interconnectedness enhances the functionality of the security infrastructure while helping staff collaborate effectively. Most importantly, the unified system is intended to trigger appropriate reactions across the board, thereby bolstering the facility’s ability to preemptively address and manage security threats.

Network Security Protocols

Network security is an increasingly important feature in correctional facility security systems – as cybercrime and hacks are constantly evolving. The secure handling and transmission of data, such as surveillance feeds, access logs, and alarm notifications are crucial in maintaining a facility’s security capability.

Any hacking attempt on the network security can destabilize the entire security makeup of a correctional facility, endangering both personnel and inmates while potentially facilitating illicit activities.

Immediate Response Mechanism

If any incidents arise in a correctional facility, an immediate response is crucial to minimize the fallout.

The dense and potentially volatile environment of correction facilities necessitates a rapid, well-coordinated response to any security breach, disturbance, or emergency.

A well-structured immediate response mechanism ensures the detection of an anomaly or threat, relevant alerts are instantly relayed to the appropriate personnel or response teams, enabling them to enact protocols or take necessary corrective actions with minimal delay.

No matter what type of security alarm system you use in the facility, immediate response needs to be a priority.

Data Logging and Reporting

Modern security systems are based on data analysis.

Data logging, reporting, and warehousing in correctional facility security alarm systems provide a documented history of incidents, alarms, and operational statuses. This gives officials an in-depth examination of system performance, incident responses, and most importantly, potential vulnerabilities.

Facilities can use this information to improve upon the established security protocols by analyzing logged data for patterns, repeated incidents, or systematic weaknesses. Moreover, in the event of legal scrutiny or internal reviews, data logs serve as an essential record, detailing the chronological sequence of events and providing transparency in operational practices. In today’s correctional landscape, data reporting is non-negotiable.

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Maintenance Alerts

The worst time to know when a correctional facility security system needs maintenance is AFTER an incident happens.  Today’s systems MUST be equipped with alerts that preemptive measures to identify and signal any elements of the system that may be approaching failure or require attention.

Regular maintenance, prompted by these alerts, ensures that all components of the security system are addressed before a crisis arises. This proactive management is crucial to a secure operational environment.

Evaluating Vendors and Technology Providers

When correctional facilities evaluate vendors for choosing a security alarm system, they can’t choose just any provider.

The vendor should specialize in correctional facilities with a reputation for reliability, technological prowess, and a proven track record. The vendor’s ability to provide comprehensive post-installation support, regular maintenance, and prompt crisis response must be weighed heavily in the selection process.

On an administrative level, transparent communication, clear contractual obligations, and adherence to industry standards and regulatory compliance are core characteristics of a good provider. Ultimately, the selection should pivot on a balanced consideration of the experience, technology, and ongoing support capacities of the vendor.

Be sure to read through their testimonials – and don’t be shy about asking for references from past clients.

The Next Step

The selection of a security system for a correctional facility is a testament to safety, order, and adherence to regulatory standards.

This task requires a comprehensive understanding of the technological aspects and how emerging technology improves security standards. The security system acts as the linchpin that safeguards the integrity and creates an environment conducive to rehabilitation.

You don’t need to make this choice alone. Get in touch with a security systems provider in your area to help you understand your facility’s needs – and the path to implementation.

Author Bio: Brian Kozlosky, President/Founder of 2 Krew Security and Surveillance – headquartered in Kittanning, PA. With a Bachelor of Science from Slippery Rock University, I have 15+ years of experience operating a successful security and surveillance company. You can get in touch with me on LinkedIn.

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