New Outdoor Lighting Maximizes Security and Saves Energy at Indiana Prison Yard

Outdoor lighting is almost always about convenience and safety, along 
roadways, in parking lots and in common spaces throughout communities. 
Sometimes, though, it becomes a critical security measure, as in the 
case of the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Indiana. Acuity Brands Lighting

James R. Dukart

Outdoor lighting is almost always about convenience and safety, along roadways, in parking lots and in common spaces throughout communities. Sometimes, though, it becomes a critical security measure, as in the case of the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Indiana.

The prison, housed on 340 acres, includes a super-maximum-security unit and has a daily population of some 2,050 offenders, with about 660 staff positions and another 110 contractual workers.

Built in 1992, the outdoor yard was initially illuminated by 142 1,000-watt high pressure sodium (HPS) high-mast lamps installed on 32 80-foot steel poles. Over the years, the HPS bulbs started to yellow and degrade, and prison officials were finding maintenance and replacement costs troublesome, particularly in having to bring 120-foot boom trucks to a relatively remote location just to perform re-lamps — all of course with attendant security concerns of working in and around a prison yard.

So last year, the facility upgraded its outdoor lighting to 142 HMAO LED lamps made by Holophane, part of AcuityBrands.

The new lamps were installed on existing poles, and cut the previous 1,090-watt input required by the HPS lights to 500 watts with the LEDs, representing energy savings of about 55 percent. The new LED bulbs also have an expected life span of100,000 hours, expected to reduce maintenance costs by 77 percent just on bulb replacement alone.

More importantly — perhaps — Richard Brown, superintendent of the facility, says the new lighting provides a crisp white light source without glare, and has “dramatically improved the security of the facility.”

Brown tells the story of a past history of contraband being thrown over a perimeter fence, and how the new lighting helps address that concern.

“We recently had intelligence that a civilian was going to throw a package of cell phones over the outer perimeter fence,” Brown notes. “Fortunately, the civilian did not make it across the field to the fence, because it was so well lit. I personally observed this via our camera system.”


Photo courtesy of Acuity Brands Lighting