Prison systems look to create new prisons in response to a variety of circumstances; a desire to increase capacity and reduce overcrowding; to replace buildings that have been destroyed as a result of riot, natural disasters, war or terrorism; or to replace old buildings that are no longer fit for purpose. Whatever the reason, the creation of new prisons requires thorough planning at all stages.

Clear specifications for new prisons are fundamentally important, as they create the environment for the secure and humane containment of prisoners. There needs to be:

  • adequate capacity, including the right kinds of bed space to allow proper prisoner classification and separation;
  • flexibility in the use of accommodation areas;
  • good lines of sight and visibility;
  • cell and dormitory occupancy levels appropriate to the prisoner classification;
  • control of sound levels and elimination of visual conflicts;
  • an appropriate physical environment (space, temperature, light, colour, humidity) for prisoners to live in and for staff to work in;
  • a minimum need to rely on electronic surveillance, especially closed-circuit television; and
  • spatial organisation that accommodates the flow of activities rather than inhibits it.

Panopticon Consulting has provided advice to a number of jurisdictions on developing clear specifications for new prisons and options for general prison design, based on our knowledge gained from seeing different prison designs in numerous countries. We can also source specialist services from prison design and construction experts. We have also provided support in planning for the occupation of new prisons, in order that the transition happens in a controlled and ordered manner.