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Archive for August, 2010

Performa Wins National Competition in GSA’s Design Excellence Program

August 30th, 2010

Performa Inc. recently won a national design competition sponsored by the General Service Administration (GSA) to design the new $40 million Land Port of Entry located in Madawaska, Maine.

The Design Excellence Program is the center for GSA’s advocacy of design quality and artistic expression. It establishes nationwide policies for selecting “the finest and most appropriate architects for GSA commissions.” Performa competed against world-class competition and was judged by distinguished private-sector design professionals appointed by the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service to assist GSA. GSA specified the project to enhance safety and provide a secure point of arrival and departure for pedestrian and vehicular traffic at the Canadian Border. In addition, the new design is required to make a distinct architectural statement, a symbol of the United States appropriate to first impressions on entering the United States. The design must also be responsive to the local climate and cultures.

The project includes an expansion and replacement of the existing 48 year old, 6,000 square foot,   single building with a new 27,000 square foot, multiple-building facility to accommodate DHS/ICE and GSA requirements for the project. The facility will integrate an array of complex screening technologies and security measures.

The United States Port Facility at Madawaska, Maine, is located within an urban setting along the waterfront area on the Saint-John River, adjacent to the International Bridge. It serves as the port of entry between Madawaska, Maine, and Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada.

When Performa CEO Jeff Kanzelberger was asked to comment he said, “Of course we are thrilled.  Performa’s principal design premise is that operations drive all elements of design. This project is essentially a challenge of complex process flow, integrating state-of-the-art and emerging technologies, security and symbolism. It is particularly heartening that Performa’s enduring commitment to balance our clients’ operational effectiveness with design has merited national attention.”

Visit Performa’s Web site to see how architectural distinction and operational savings go hand-in-hand.

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5 Ways to Prevent Conflict in Your Correctional Facility

August 19th, 2010

Reducing conflict is a sure fire, sustainable way to reduce costs in correctional facilities. Here are five ways to prevent conflict:

1. Prevent overcrowding: Overcrowding causes several problems for a facility as a whole. More inmates means more costs for healthcare, programming, basic services (hair care, food, laundry…) and more staff to manage the population. But as correctional operators try to reduce costs, these services and programming are trimmed and the facility operates on a lean staff–a combination for disaster. Inmates sit idle in their cells for longer periods of time, creating pent-up resentment that results in prison riots and other destructive behavior. To learn some strategies that prevent overcrowding click here

2. Control noise: Excessive noise levels are also associated with patterns of increased irritability and aggression, as well as decreased cooperation. According to ACA’s Noise Standard, inmate housing should not exceed 70 dBA during daytime hours and should stay below 45 dBA at night. To read a case study about noise control click here.

3. Design to eliminate contraband: Strategic person flow throughout the facility is proven to reduce contraband levels. White County Law Enforcement Center, in Arkansas, established two major interior traffic flows: one for the public and one for justice in order to cut down the interaction between visitors and weekend inmates. The justice center realized lower rates of contraband as a result of the design.

4. Keep programming: As mentioned above, programming is an outlet for inmates to keep busy and out of trouble. In addition to this, programming is proven to prepare inmates for re-entry into civilization, reducing recidivism and overcrowding.

5. Eliminate hidden and unmonitored corners: Unmonitored areas of the facility are breeding grounds for conflict. Inmates use these areas to gang up and assault other inmates and officers. During the planning stages of a facility, take a good look at the design for potential problem areas. Or, use the latest monitoring equipment.

6. Create a housing strategy based on evidence-based offender classification: Segregating the inmate population by classification will provide a safe haven for those inmates at risk of being victims of assault.

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Prevent Overcrowding and Save Money on Staff

August 17th, 2010

Cutting programs and trimming staff that only leaves the needed few to deal with a swelled inmate population is a one-sided solution. While cost is saved on the staffing line item, other line items such as facility repair and worker’s compensation are slammed with more cost.

Overcrowded conditions stands as the cause of nearly every prison riot. The riot in Chino, Calif., fueled by overcrowding issues, has many corrections professionals predicting that more U.S. prisons are ticking time bombs. Overcrowding prevents the basic needs of inmates being fulfilled and requires inmates to be locked up with nothing to do- increasing their resentment toward the facility and staff.

Prevent overcrowding by:

o Outsourcing to a private operator: Many states have opted to outsource prison operations, because it is a cost-saving measure. For instance, Alaska houses inmates at a privately run facility in Hudson, Colo. Check out our blog on how to outsource prison operations.

o Contracting housing from county jails and other state penitentiaries: While your facility may be filled, the next county or state may have room you can contract out. Make sure you have a thorough contract to protect you from any legal issues that may arise, however.

o Start alternative housing for inmates who can work: Dauphin County, P.A., saves taxpayers huge money with their work-release center. Inmates housed at the center pay rent, pay for their food and medical treatment and take care of the facility. Not only is the work center saving money, but it provides an alternative to simply housing inmates at the overcrowded county prison on East King Street.

For more sustainable ways to reduce the costs of staff, receive our free guide, “How to Lower Costs Without Putting Staff at Higher Risk.”

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Cell Phone Contraband: Adding to Staff Injury

August 12th, 2010

As the Safe Prisons Communications Act awaits a yea or nay, the problem with cell phones in the hands of inmates is ever-increasing. According to a July New York Times article, “States Seek to Jam Prison Cell Phone Signals,” 2009, California confiscated 2,809 cell phones. Federal officials found 1,623. We have all seen the unusual smuggling schemes.

In the same New York Times article, inmates use cell phones for extortion schemes, tax evasion plots, drug deals, credit card fraud, prison riots and escapes. Just like drugs and other items, officers are required to confiscate contraband cell phones, which can come at the cost of a conflict.

Conflict can result in injury, which has the highest rate among correctional staff than in any other career. Injury requires time off and increases the staffing budget line item in the form of workman’s compensation and overtime for officers left to pick up the slack. For operators and government officials looking to lower the costs of prison operations, employing hiring and wage freezes may look good in the books, but don’t address avoidable staffing costs, like injury and stress.

In a previous blog, “More Ways to Eliminate Cell Phone Contraband,” we mentioned two other ways to eliminate cell phone contraband in prisons:

· Create a strategic inmate flow that separates them from the general public.

· Employ advanced technology that helps inmates stay connected to loved ones without physical contact.

Check out the blog here.

If you want to learn how to cut staffing costs with tactics that combat injury and stress, receive our free guide here >

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Saving Tip #1: Utilize Your Inmate Workforce

August 10th, 2010

Let’s take a look at some of the jobs your current inmate population could be doing:

  • Forestry
  • Horticulture
  • Farming
  • Construction
  • Grounds maintenance
  • On-site food service
  • Janitorial services
  • Road work
  • And in nearly 140 industries nationwide

Significant savings can be seen in prison operations when inmates are put to work.

  • Dauphin County, PA., saves taxpayers huge money with their work-release center. Inmates housed at the center pay rent, pay for their food and medical treatment and take care of the facility. Not only is the work center saving money, but it provides an alternative to simply housing inmates at the overcrowded county prison on East King Street.
  • In Windsor, Vermont, a former women’s prison was transformed into a work camp for 100 men. The men will be employed in shops that produce signs and license plates and will work in the facility’s kitchen and on its grounds crew. No one convicted of violent crimes, including sexual offenses, will be eligible for the work camp.
  • Pennsylvania Correctional Industries (PCI) puts inmates at 15 state prisons to work while they serve sentences. Huntingdon State Prison, where Big House brand of products are made, has three operations:
    • A print shop for making hundreds of forms for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and other state agencies
    • A garment factory for making orange and grey jumpsuits and other clothing for inmates
    • A soap factory for making different types of bar soap, de-greasers, hand cleansers, laundry soap and other products 

PCI made $34 million in gross sales and $1 million in profits, which was put back into PCI to buy new machines and equipment.

In the midst of funding cuts and budget shortages, follow this blog for our series on cost-savings ideas. Upcoming topics include:

  • #2: Shop around for the best deal
  • #3: Avoid lawsuits
  • #4: Weigh the costs of building new and reusing what you already have

mwentworth Uncategorized

Stop the Vicious Staffing Cycle and Cut Costs

August 10th, 2010
Stop the Vicious Staffing Cycle and Cut Costs

Costs Associated with Correctional StaffingThe costs associated with correctional staffing is a vicious cycle that only results in more cost, if not accounting for the entire problem. Operators dealing with budget cuts have reduced staff, put a freeze on hiring, reduced salaries and benefits and eliminated pay increases. While looking good in the books, these solutions only solve half of the equation and actually add more cost when taking into account injury and stress corrections employees encounter when dealing with the ever-growing inmate population.


A sustainable solution for cutting costs is found in reducing injury and stress.


The case for reducing injury: Safer working environments result in lowered costs. When an employee is injured on the job and has to take leave, the remaining employees are left to pick up the vacant duties, resulting in overtime. By reducing injury, the costs of overtime are greatly reduced.


The case for reducing stress: In addition to injury, stress is another cause of time off and turnover. In fact, the ACA concluded that stress and burnout were the biggest factors for the high turnover rate among corrections professionals.


To learn how to cut staffing costs by reducing injury and stress, click here to receive our free eBook guide How to Lower Costs Without Putting Staff At Higher Risk.


mwentworth Uncategorized

Funding and Operating Costs Remain Top Issues Facing Corrections

August 6th, 2010

At the ACA 140th Congress of Correction in Chicago, attendees visiting the Performa Inc. booth took an informal survey.  We asked them what they thought were the top issues facing corrections in the next 12 months.

Attendees ranked Funding (57%) and Operating Costs (48%) as the top two issues.  In January, at the ACA 2010 Winter Conference in Tampa, FL, these issues were also rated the top issues.


Prison of the Future
Performa also asked booth visitors about their view of the challenges and areas of focus for the Prison of the Future.  There was strong consensus that Programs (63%) should be the primary focus, followed closely by Housing Unit Configuration (52%).  Many challenged whether the current corrections model was sustainable, considering the incredible growth in the prison population.  There was open debate about alternative models that keep marginal offenders from merging with the chronic criminal population.  Stay tuned for more debate.

Matt Adcock (right) of McCarthy Building Companies is shown conversing with Performa CEO Jeff Kanzelberger (left) and Performa Justice Group President David Robillard (center).

Matt Adcock (right) of McCarthy Building Companies is shown conversing with Performa CEO Jeff Kanzelberger (left) and Performa Justice Group President David Robillard (center).

Performa’s Scott Wohr explains the top five ways Performa helps corrections facility operators cut operating costs.

Performa’s Scott Wohr explains the top five ways Performa helps corrections facility operators cut operating costs.

mwentworth Uncategorized

Prison Overcrowding on the Minds of Attendees at the ACA 2010 Summer Congress of Correction

August 6th, 2010

As with the over-exaggerated news of Mark Twain’s death, the stories of the ACA’s Summer Conference’s low attendance has proven to be an exaggeration as well. Not sure whether it is the carnival style venue, Chicago’s Navy Pier, or the state of the industry, underfunded and soft, but the attendance appears to be as strong as last winter’s show in Tampa.

Performa’s booth team, including CEO Jeff Kanzelberger and Justice President David Robillard, saw light traffic Sunday night, but very strong traffic Monday. The primary issue on the minds of booth visitors was weak funding and its impact on overcrowding. The buzz is that the larger corrections projects have stalled as states, and even the Feds, struggle with budgets and funding.  Many believe this situation is likely to last for at least another 12 months.

Performa’s issues survey (of booth visitors) showed support for the anecdotal conclusions.  As with the winter show, the top three issues of Funding, Operating Costs and Staffing Costs remain firmly in position.  But a new issue has risen to fourth place:  overcrowding.

The demand for more beds hasn’t diminished, but the growth in new beds appears to have slowed, if not stalled altogether, as many states and the Feds struggle with historic budget deficits.  This is not an issue that is likely to go away soon.  And many fear it will get far worse before it gets better.

mwentworth Uncategorized

How Have You Helped Your Facility Save Money? Corrections Professionals Share Their Thoughts

August 5th, 2010

In our recent eBook, So You Don’t Have a Rich Uncle: 9 Fresh Tactics That Combat Funding Shortages, we presented 9 ways to save money. We understand this list is not complete, so we posed the question in the Corrections group on LinkedIn—asking correctional experts how they are saving money in their correctional facilities.

The responses are below.

Performa is dedicated to helping prison operators remain viable despite budget and funding cuts. Take the same survey HERE and Performa will post your ideas on this blog throughout the year.

  • My suggestion would be the increased use of IT—specifically thin client technologies, which are easily replaceable, don’t need additional levels of support and are also very economical on power consumption. It also saves on materials budgets for items such as paper. We have been implementing a comprehensive package of e-learning induction/orientation and data management systems for several correctional services worldwide. All of which are proving to deliver significant cost savings as well as environmental savings.  - Matthew Logan, Chief Executive Officer, Leaf Systems
  • Take advantage of opportunity buys—facilities can save from 20 to 25 percent off of contract pricing. -Nili Abrahams, Senior Sales Manager for The Inventory Exchange
  • Our institution has eliminated pop at meals and only serves tea now, milk and coffee at breakfast. Staff are taking furlough days (unpaid time off). -Claude Schultz, Correctional Lieutenant at Oregon Department of Corrections
  • American Correctional Solutions has assisted our clients, county jails and state prisons in saving money by providing on-site clinics and/or telemedicine consultations for specialty healthcare services in corrections. -Christina Atwater, Projects Manager at American Correctional Solutions
  • As a food service consultant, I can safely say that there is literally thousands of dollars to be saved per location simply by evaluating operations and making some changes particularly with respect to cooling and HVAC issues. All strategies do not have to be complex. In many cases, state and even federal funds exist which can be used to pay for energy audit (studies). Furthermore, funding has been available for items with a ten-year or less payback. - Sheila Palinkas, Regional Sales Manager for U.S. Cooler
  • Substantial savings can be realized by installing low-flow shower heads. As with any fixture, this approach raises questions of potential vandalism, self-destructive behavior or tampering. My online marketing client, HighSierra Showerheads, recently came up with a new line of “tamper proof” 1.5 GPM shower heads. We recently retrofitted Herlong FCI with 225 shower heads. Estimated saving this year: 3,500,000 gallons of water and $97,500 in water heating costs. -Jonathan Franks, WSI Internet Marketing Analyst
  • Reducing the jail population enough to close just one unit saves significant money. It’s a good idea to look at who’s in jail and why. Find ways to divert more detainees. It often takes conversations with local law enforcement and courts, but it’s worth the work. Especially look at alternatives for people with mental illnesses. - Connie Clem, Communications and Information Professional, Researcher, Writer and Principal, Clem Info Strategies
  • Control overtime: Using kiosks to handle inmate money (their property plus money) can save significant staff time. - Connie Clem, Communications and Information Professional, Researcher, Writer and Principal, Clem Info Strategies
  • Solar: You can set up power purchase agreements that will allow the facility to go green at no cost and have guaranteed rates at a lower price than standard utility rates. - Jim Marsh, Management Consultant for Marsh Group Consulting
  • Re-evaluate your inmate phone system. - Jim Marsh, Management Consultant for Marsh Group Consulting
  • GoodSource offers special buys on food items for correctional facilities. They buy take-all or bulk purchases from leading food processors worldwide that are available due to excess inventory, cosmetic imperfections, mislabeled items, incorrect packaging and the savings go to customers. - Jennifer Spears, Sales Consultant at GoodSource Solutions

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