Shipping Containers May House Prisoners
(05/06/2011)

ADELAIDE, South Australia — South Australia has proposed housing prison inmates in shipping containers as a cheap way to ease prison overcrowding.

Correctional Services Minister Tom Koutsantonis introduced a six-cell unit built from shipping containers, to be used for a trial period, at the Cadell Training Centre outside Adelaide, saying the cells could allow the government to erect prison housing in half the time as traditional cells and save up to 40 percent in construction costs.

Construction time on the cells is only six months, while traditional cell construction can take more than 12 months, he added.

The Australian defense and emergency services markets already use shipping containers for modular accommodation and storage systems, and a 120-room Travelodge in Uxbridge, England, is composed entirely of prefabricated shipping containers.

Koutsantonis said the correctional ministry conducted market research to identify the most secure, flexible and cost-effective temporary and long-term prisoner housing options, with shipping containers emerging the winner.

The container cellblocks can connect to existing structures and be moved to remote locations and set up quickly and cheaply, he said.

The trial unit is composed of six single cells built from newly-fabricated shipping containers. Prison-grade fittings such as high-security windows and doors, were also installed. Standard-sized shipping containers were used for the cells and a wider container was used for the hallway.

If the trial succeeds the government will consider establishing shipping container cellblocks at two other prisons in the Australian state.

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