Quarterly Question: As we head into 2023, what are the biggest trends impacting the corrections industry?

We sat down with Rick Bruining, Project Executive, to learn more about what he foresees in the coming year

As part of BELL’s commitment to serving as a trusted advisor to our clients and industry partners, we share insights from our team and other industry experts each quarter that we hope will help you plan more effectively for your projects.

From BELL’s perspective, the corrections and justice marketplace is strong, and there is no shortage of projects in this market sector. Prison and jail construction has evolved, and a much larger emphasis is placed on innovative, updated designs and program space that help improve rehabilitative measures during incarceration. 

Recently, Alex Roten, BELL Project Manager, and I attended the 2022 Correction Summit in Pinehurst, North Carolina. My biggest takeaway from the summit was the severity of escalating costs and labor shortages affecting owners, designers, contractors, subcontractors, manufacturers and beyond. Impacts vary for each entity, but escalating material costs, material shortages and labor shortages continue to negatively affect the industry. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple solution. However, construction methods like construction manager at-risk (CMAR), early material procurement and subcontractor design assist help clients in stretching their dollars. Moreover, using more pre-manufactured products can help alleviate labor shortages over on-site construction methods.

I anticipate two top trends will continue to shape the corrections construction marketplace.

Use of prefabricated cells will continue

Contractors and clients continue to find substantial benefits to using prefabricated or “prefab” secured cells, including time and cost savings during constructions and a higher quality product. Prefab cells are not the best fit for every project, but for most correctional projects, prefab cells help reduce the impact of on-site labor needed to construct cells, while offering a product that is built by specialized professionals with the familiarity of each state’s requirements. This prefab process improves cell quality and streamlines coordination. 

Impact of mega projects will be felt by projects of all sizes

There have been quite a few “mega” corrections projects across the country that take special efforts in procuring equipment and trades.  With these projects of significant scale, procurement of materials, equipment and trades is challenging, none more than the specialized detention and security trades and equipment, which become a critical component to project success. Additionally, these mega project procurements impact other unrelated projects in the corrections industry because they lock up specialized material suppliers for months at a time, and expose one of the problems we face in the corrections marketplace:  the limited number of specialized material manufacturers. Ensuring success means knowing how to forecast products and subcontractors for your project, regardless of whether it’s a mega project or a smaller project that may be affected by mega projects.

Have questions about justice and corrections construction? Please contact us.