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PJanuary 24, 2020

It’s the Details That Count – Vaughn Correctional Facility

Every now and then, a unique opportunity is presented to EDiS Company that stands out as a testament to the pursuit of excellence and attention to detail that the company is known for. These jobs often present unique challenges for the EDiS team to overcome. This was certainly the case when EDiS accepted the challenge to work on a maximum-security prison. Projects like these require the builder to remain disciplined and professional to achieve a flawless result. EDiS was up to the challenge.

The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC) is a prison facility for men located near Smyrna, Delaware, in southern New Castle County. It’s Delaware’s largest adult male correctional facility and holds approximately 2,500 individuals at any given time. JTVCC opened in 1971 with a capacity of only 441. Now, expansions have since increased the total bed capacity to over 2,600. The correctional center has several programs designed to rehabilitate the inmates, including educational opportunities, vocational training, work assignments, spiritual/religious programs, and a variety of other classes.

Housing these programs led the JTVCC to a need for a 5,000 square foot addition to the east side of the building. The addition includes four separate classrooms for learning and rehabilitation processes. Each room required its own set of highly detailed, unique rules. This also includes safety protocols that contractors must follow to remain compliant with JTVCC rules and regulations.

To add an additional layer of complexity, prison protocol required inventory of each and every tool that workers brought in or out. To compensate, workers brought all the tools potentially necessary, as getting out of the building for a missing tool wasn’t simple. In addition, all company vehicles are searched, everyone must have their proper identification, and everyone must sign in and out and enter/exit as a group.

The second challenge was the rooms themselves. Each room had to be “no pick” compliant. The construction design mandated no cracks or cervices in, on, or between any surface. For example, the markerboards are installed flat against the wall. The desks and chairs had to be bolted to the floor. Even something as tiny as the screws mattered, as they had to be tamper-proof. The windows were barred immediately upon completion. The classroom doors received both an electrical and manual lock, topped off by a panic button installation in each classroom.

Under normal circumstances, such a heavy emphasis on the details would stall a construction project. To keep the project running, Superintendent Chris Courtney (the only on-site member allowed a phone) organized his work force into an efficient machine, “After a short time on site, we developed a rapport with the officers and learned the exact way we had to get the work done. Efficiency was everything with this project. You mess up once and the whole team has to adjust. There are only so many escorts if you forget a tool. There are only so many hours you’re allowed in the building at one time.” At EDiS, it’s the details that count!

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