A Call for DECs to Grow

New opportunities in the changing topography of budgets, inmate populations, and falling crime rates may begin unfolding for Detention Equipment Contractors (DECs). Guardians of a unique set of knowledge, the confluence of past and present will an emergence of a new set of services.

New construction projects are drastically slowing in favor of repurposing and upgrading facilities. The building boom of the 80’s and 90’s, and the steady construction of the 00’s left plenty of square footage for today’s inmate requirements. Too much, perhaps, as many facilities are being decommissioned as correctional facilities and evolving into multi-use facilities.  The decommissioned Fort Lyon Correctional Facility is considering converting into a veteran rehabilitation center, for example. Several facilities in New York including the Mid-Orange Correctional Facility and the Arthur Kill New York State Correctional Facility are awaiting new functions, among the options being considered: a Greek yogurt plant.

For the more government related conversions, however, and with the increasingly popular updates to facilities who are accepting the inmates from the decommissioned facilities, a healthy amount of work is in the pipeline for DECs.

Consider the FBI’s crime rate decreases for 2010. The agency measured the change in crime from the first six months in 2010 to the first six months in 2009. In each category: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson, the percent change in crime decreased anywhere from 1.4 percent to 14.6 percent. This trend is descriptive of decades worth of macro change, and the affecting of the trend is a call to action for DECs who wish to stay competitive in the evolving landscape. 

An analysis of historical project data from 1985 – 2006 shows that over 2000 facilities nationwide are ripe for upgrades in the coming years. With the change in economics and crime rates, it behooves the DEC community to take a critical look at its operations and pinpoint which services will become increasingly valuable, and which services will fall into irrelevance.

If DECs choose to converge into the new market, the industry will find acutely trained, broader licensed, and widely connected DECs, better prepared to contract with conversion teams. In strengthening their capabilities, these DECs will promote useful competition within the segment. While perhaps not so much so as Greek yogurt, the competition created will be healthy for the segment, the industry, and most importantly, healthy for the owner. 

Published in Correctional News Security Electronics Contractor Report. Read the full report here.