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Electrical Engineering for Jail Design

Thomas Mason, PE

Course Outline

This three hour online course presents the concepts and examples of use of electrical engineering in the design of jails and jail renovations. The methods have been successfully applied to County and City detention centers for adults, detention centers for juveniles, and district police stations. There is an implication of low- to medium-security for such jails, but the population periodically included serious offenders, violent persons under-the-influence and psychiatric patients. Safety for clients, staff and the public is always the primary goal.

The course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, based upon the course content.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for architects, engineers, contractors and construction managers involved in designing and building jails and jail renovations. Interested technical persons will get value for insights into how a relatively isolated section of our society works and how the equipment works to support it.

Benefit to Attendees

The greatest fear in facilities design is not error but oversight. An error should be picked up at one of the many reviews which take place. Something that the original designer misses can easily be missed in each of the reviews.

Narrative: True story. A new multi-story architecture building was erected at a major state university. After construction, it was noticed that no restrooms were included. Restrooms were retrofitted into the stairwells - mens and womens on alternate floors.

This course is intended to be a shallow but wide discussion of electrical systems in jails. In some cases new technology is discussed, like contraband detection and IP-TV. In others, lists are presented, like smoke detectors, heat detectors, pull stations, strobe-horns and annunciators. Hopefully, these will help avoiding the oversight problem.

Course Content

The course content is in Electrical Engineering for Jail Design (PDF File). You need to open or download this document to study this course.

Course Summary

Jails are a special class of institutional buildings. The Codes apply a little differently and the meaning of heavy-duty takes on new meaning. This course briefly examines the electrical systems that must be selected and detailed by and electrical engineer for new construction or renovation.

Related Links

These sources are offered for reference and educational value. None of the products is particularly recommended by the author or PDHonline.

Jail Lighting Fixture, see

[CAUTION: is residential and industrial only.]

Surveillance analog cctv at

High security intercoms at .

General-purpose control relays at . [require enclosure]

General-purpose control valves at



Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.