Container Prisons – Why re-invent the wheel

Container Prisons are cheap, real cheap, but that doesn’t mean they are nasty. The US Government knows they built one to house 408 prisoners for just $9.7 million. That is only $23,700 per cell compared with the $500,000 per cell the last prison cost.

Delta was thrown together for $9.7 million by a private contractor, Brown and Root Services a division of Vice President Cheney’s old company, Halliburton which flew in low-wage contract labor from the Philippines and India to get the job done, in much the same way that Asians were once brought to the Caribbean to harvest sugar cane. The cell blocks are assembled from the standard forty-foot steel boxes called connex containers that are used in international shipping: five cells to a container, eight containers to a cell block, with four lined up on each side of a central corridor where the lights and fans are installed. Welders cut away three sides of each container, replacing them with sidings of steel mesh, leaving the roof, floor, and one steel wall into which a window was cut. Floor-level toilets were installed, the kind requiring squatting, traditionally described as ” la turque” and now these are sometimes mentioned as an example of American sensitivity to the cultural needs of the detainees.

Better still construction time is short as well. Construction on Camp Delta started on February 27, 2002 and was completed mid April the same year. The prison was fully operational and housing 408 prisoners before month end April 2002.

Container PrisonEach detention unit is 8 feet long, 6 feet 8 inches wide and 8 feet tall and constructed with metal mesh material on a solid steel frame. Approximately 24 units make up a detention block. The facility has indoor plumbing with each unit having its own floor style flush toilet, metal bed-frame raised off the floor, and a sink with running water; none of which was available at Camp X-Ray where portable toilets were used instead. Areas at Camp Delta are also better controlled than Camp X-Ray and detainees are out of the sun more. There are also two recreation/exercise areas per detention block at Camp Delta. The maximum security portion of camp Delta is made up of three detention blocks.

And if we hire Sheriff Joe then I think Corrections would be well on the way to earning its keep.

Oh and for those who are squeamish about using the prisoners to build their own prison, well we only need to look at the success of Sydney, where some of the best judges in England selected prisoners to go and live there and also locally to Invercargill Prison. Apparently Invercargill Prison was built by prisoners taken from Dunedin Prison to live in tents while they did it. It was designed to be beautiful inside, and parts of it were. When finished it was considered to be one of the finest and most progressive prisons in the Empire.

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