The recently opened South Correctional Entity (SCORE), jail just south of Seattle holds several distinctions as far as correctional facilities go. It is the first multi-jurisdictional jail in the state of Washington serving an alliance of 7 member-cities which sought a solution to jail overcrowding, operating inefficiencies, and rising costs.  The project is also the recipient of two design awards including an AIA-Seattle (American Institute of Architects), 2011 Commendation Award, and an ENR-California (Engineering News Record), 2011 Best Projects Award of Merit.

This multi-jurisdictional model was developed with the intent of standardizing the quality of services provided by the jail and to control cost and fees, which varied widely between the nine separate jails previously utilized by King County law enforcement. With jail costs increasing by an average of nearly 70 percent over the past seven years, the member-cities decided forming a regional jail would result in sizable savings.

The SCORE facility was built on vacant land owned by the Port of Seattle, not far from SeaTac airport. The flexible design concept can accommodate fluctuating populations of either male or female inmates, who average a two week stay, without sacrificing privacy or security. In an interview with Correctional News, Bill Buursma of DLR Seattle, the project architect on the facility, pointed out that much attention was focused on circulation patterns and the configuration of the two main housing units, each with seven pie-shaped dayrooms with cells off to one side. This formation will help lower the jail’s operational costs since a podium with a control room will rise in the center of each of the two general housing units, creating a 360-degree view for staff, who can also operate doors and locks remotely. The high-efficiency plan allows for a staffing ratio of 5.3 inmates per staff person, for a total of about 120 employees in all, including corrections officers, medical staff and administrative personnel.

“The overall design and control of the building areas, while maintaining a full space program, is the single most influential component of SCORE’s low cost,” says Bill Buursma.  The SCORE facility also capitalized on an emerging trend in corrections, non-contact visitation. Video visitation creates cost savings because it streamlines the processing of inmate and visitor contact. The SCORE facility used Norix stainless steel InteleStation cabinets to protect their valuable communications equipment in the inmate dayroom, eliminating the need to transfer inmates in order to access visitation.

Get more details about the design and construction in Correctional News. Please be sure to share this with others who are interested in jail design.