Inmate safety, officer safety, and general prison safety are priorities when it comes to the high stress, high risk environments of prisons, jails, and any correctional facility. Lighting plays a huge role in these priorities, as it makes them possible at the most basic level; without lights you cannot enforce, identify threats, or generally maintain order. We at GREENandSAVE have decided to begin the "Bright Ideas" series which is directed at identifying the most prominent ways in which consciousness of human and non-human environments should be considered in prisons of today and prisons of the future by discussing ways in which implementing various forms of technologies, ideologies, and general practices aimed at both human and non-human environmental consideration can offer a brighter future for the most populated prison system in the world.
Reducing Maintenance Increases Safety
Security, operational efficiency, safety; these components define the core, pragmatic functions that are intrinsic to all prisons, detention centers, and correctional facilities. Order would cease to exist in these facilities without any of these three components. One of the greatest threats to order in prisons is the potential for inmates to escape. The New York Police conducted a study which found that nearly half of all escapes have happened or will happen during prisoner transport (NY Times, 2002).
Now it may not occur to you but for a prison, performing required lighting maintenance can create the exact conditions for these types of opportunities. With conventional fluorescent lighting, frequent maintenance and replacement is a requirement, a requirement which is inconvenient and possibly dangerous to facility personnel and even other inmates. If a prison uses these types of lighting systems, the far too frequent replacements often call for offenders to be relocated. What this can cause is overcrowding and may lead to other challenges, as previously mentioned.
One solution to this challenge can be found in replacing conventional fluorescent light systems with LED light systems. Due to the long mean-time-between-failure (MTBF) that properly designed LED fixtures provide, the hazards presented by frequent maintenance can be virtually eliminated. Rather than having to replace fluorescent tubes multiple times a year, the average LED tube can last for up to 10 years while still running for 24 hours a day. Yes, you read that correctly: 10 years while running 24 hours a day. In addition, requiring as little as 20% of the energy it takes to run a comparable fluorescent tube, it's a no-brainer to switch to LED lights. We found that Independence LED offers a product they call the "Correctional Facility LED Tube" which represents the perfect example of the exact type of replacement for conventional fluorescent lights that we’re talking about. Essentially, retrofitting our prisons with LED lights means that safety and security can remain intact all the while maintenance and energy costs are reduced. Outside of any sort of up-front costs, this is a win-win-win situation.