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Lebanon Correctional Institute

Exterior lighting lessens likelihood of escape at Lebanon

The goal in lighting the perimeter fence and yard at the Lebanon Correctional Institution, in Lebanon, Ohio, was simple: to prevent escape. Over the years, officials at this medium-security facility had learned that inmates could be quite creative when plotting and carrying out a prison break.

In 1991, security was tightened when existing fog-type mercury vapor fixtures along the perimeter fence were replaced with twin forward-throw Vector® 400-watt high-pressure sodium luminaires from Holophane.

Thirty fixtures were installed, mounted on 30-foot poles located six feet outside the first fence. Light levels were increased to 7 footcandles on the two 20-foot-high concertina fences and the boulder and rock-strewn area in between. The fences are approximately 20 feet apart.

“The fences are the last obstacles inmates would encounter during an escape. We wanted to provide the guards in the six watchtowers with as much light as possible without creating glare. We also wanted to help them distinguish colors so they could determine which inmates were involved in the escape,” explained John Harpest, project leader, Heapy Engineering, Dayton.

In 1998, the facility got another security boost when a Holophane 100-foot HMST high mast lighting system was installed in the yard. The fenced site at Lebanon Correctional Institution is 38 1/2 acres, with about half of this space devoted to yard. Inmates have access to the area for recreation and exercise, with part of the yard used as a sports field.

Harpest indicated that Holophane’s Computer Aided Lighting Analysis (CALA) software was employed during the design phase of the project to determine pole placement and how the fixtures should be aimed. Sixteen high mast poles are installed throughout the yard, with 10 to 12 400-watt metal halide fixtures mounted on each pole—depending upon the location. Poles are spaced 350 to 370 feet apart, with light levels at 2 footcandles average maintained.

“The yard is always a concern from a security standpoint because the fence is located so far from the buildings,” Harpest described. “When we designed the lighting system, the goal was to supply enough light so guards could detect any movement in the yard.

Yet, we wanted to use as few poles as possible to avoid obstructing the guards’ view.” Each guard looks across about 900 feet of space from the tower.

Fixtures are aimed to achieve some overlap to eliminate dark spots in case a lamp or two burns out. The units have different beam patterns so the light is directed exactly where it is needed—throughout the yard and across portions of the roof where inmates may gain access. Precise light control also prevents the illumination from entering inmate cells.

Luminaires are controlled by a photocell and are lighted from dusk until dawn.

“The fence and yard lighting work well together; the entire area is bright and uniformly illuminated. Both the warden and the state have been pleased with the quality of the lighting. The state is planning to use this type of illumination at other correctional facilities,” Harpest said.

To facilitate maintenance, each high mast pole includes an internal winch and drive motor that lowers the lighting fixtures to within three feet of the ground for servicing. Because of a self-centering guide system, the units may be lowered in winds up to 30 miles an hour. All moving latching components are mounted on the lowering ring so they may be serviced on the ground. Plans call for the high mast system to be group re-lamped to avoid burnt out lamps.

The high mast fixtures include a quartz re-strike feature so that the units are immediately illuminated during a power outage. The prison also has a generator for use during emergencies.

Since the high mast poles are installed where inmates may have access to them, they include several security features, including welded anchor bolts. A tamper-proof cover was installed over the anchor bolts to prevent vandalism.


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