Prison Architecture Policy Design And Experience Pdf
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- The contemporary model of prison architecture: Spatial response to the re-socialization programme
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There has been growing acknowledgment among scholars, prison staff and policy-makers that gender-informed thinking should feed into penal policy but must be implemented holistically if gains are to be made in reducing trauma, saving lives, ensuring emotional wellbeing and promoting desistance from crime. This article problematises the Trauma-Informed Care and Practice TICP initiatives recently rolled out across the female prison estate, arguing that attempts to introduce trauma-sensitive services in establishments that are replete with hostile architecture, overt security paraphernalia, and dilapidated fixtures and fittings is futile.
Using examples from healthcare and custodial settings, the article puts forward suggestions for prison commissioners, planners and architects which we believe will have novel implications for prison planning and penal practice in the UK and beyond. Social scientists have emphasised the coercive elements of psychiatry and mental healthcare e. Female prisoners are of particular concern, as they disproportionately experience physical and psychological problems, exacerbated by substance misuse and mental and physical including sexual abuse from childhood [ 3 ].
Women in prison report an acutely more painful experience than their male counterparts, with many suffering complex emotional biographies and histories of community-based trauma and abuse pre-imprisonment [ 4 , 5 ]. Bloom et al. With this in mind, we explore a relatively embryonic principle in prison healthcare policy and operational culture: Trauma-Informed Care and Practice TICP.
Our belief is that, if properly implemented, TICP has the potential to ameliorate the traumas experienced by women in custody, but that it must be viewed as a holistic set of practices that include and are inextricably linked to the environmental context in which they take place.
Given this context, the article considers the female prison estate and its feasibility for a trauma-informed approach to the built environment.
Drawing on site visits in four jurisdictions—England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland NI , and the Republic of Ireland ROI —which included lengthy discussions with prisoners, officers, managers and senior prison service personnel, we discuss the relationship between built environment and the alleviation of trauma. In short, our aim is to take the sociology of health and illness into new territory, arguing that a women-centred, trauma-informed approach to health and emotional wellbeing in prisons must start with the processes of prison commissioning, planning and design.
First, though, and by way of explanatory context, we provide a snapshot of the current prison crisis and the topography of the female prison estates across the UK and Ireland, followed by a summary of the kinds of traumatic experiences common among women in prison. Prisons that accommodate women vary enormously in size, age, and design, which makes it difficult to extrapolate a single variable e. As Howard [ 9 ] p. Trauma has, in part, manifested itself in dramatically rising numbers of violent incidents and self-inflicted deaths in custody and the prisons inspectorates in all four jurisdictions have highlighted the pressing problems facing the penal systems.
While the crisis has beset every corner of the prison estate, for the approximately women in custody in England and Wales, the problems are acute. In , Baroness Corston [ 11 ] reported on the vulnerabilities of women in prison, most of whom are accommodated in prisons that were not designed for females, far less for the complex and multifarious traumatic histories that women bring into custody with them. In fact, historically, very little planning has gone into the female estate and women have—because of their relatively small numbers in the context of the prison population as a whole—all too frequently been treated as an afterthought; an addendum to the adult male estate.
In Scotland, half of the women held in custody 5. Additional female places are provided on four mixed-gender sites. With an operational capacity of women, Cornton Vale had a chronic overcrowding problem; in , the prison held women, but it has been as high as Toilets and showers were constructed outside living spaces with no direct access, resulting in women being told to use the sinks as toilets during the night.
It does not fit with my vision of how a modern and progressive country should be addressing female offending. We need to be bolder and take a more radical and ambitious approach in Scotland [ 16 ]. Now, a smaller, bed national prison is being planned for the site on which Cornton Vale stood, together with five regional Community Custody Units CCUs throughout Scotland, each housing up to 20 women.
One of the more positive aspects of the facility is Murray House, a six-bedroom unit for women nearing the end of their sentence, who are substance-free, require little supervision, and are trusted to work in the community.
This view is echoed by Moore and Scraton [ 19 ] p. In , the facility was expanded to house a further 20 women. This has had clear knock-on effects, for example, in terms of the ability of the prison to maintain safe and respectful regimes and provide adequate levels of meaningful activity for the women in its care.
While women do not come into contact with the men housed at Limerick, the accommodation there is poor, with all prisoners held in catacomb-like cells, with tiny, heavily barred windows and poor ventilation.
Access to natural daylight is scarce and the exercise yards are small concrete spaces with high walls topped with razor wire. To what extent does it inform practice? Additionally, how might trauma-informed expertise be broadened to encompass prison planning and design? The remainder of this article will seek to address these questions. This is a departure from more clinical, deficiency-based understandings—e. Both omissions are central to the life histories of women in prison.
A further problem is that clinicians themselves are engaged in ongoing disputes, e. In addition to mental, physical and sexual abuse, these may include loss and bereavement, witnessing parental abuse, being separated from children and other dependents, and—especially among women serving very long sentences—by their offences, whereby feelings of guilt, regret, anger and grief can manifest themselves in forms of inward-facing violence i.
Moreover, owing to the comparatively small female prison population and commensurately fewer custodial facilities, women tend to be held much further from their homes than their male counterparts, with adverse implications for mental health.
Reasons for non-disclosure are complex, but two explanations are that women fear the consequences of reporting offending behaviour of their abusive partners, and that they frequently encounter a culture of disbelief in the criminal justice system about the violence and abuse to which they have been exposed.
According to Muskett [ 31 ] p. The findings of Auty et al. Here, the researchers found that examples of trauma-informed care were visible across the prison; however, the aims of trauma-informed practice were not universally understood and some staff and prisoners were disheartened by the distance between the somewhat hyped status of a trauma-sensitive prison and the reality of day-to-day experience.
Similar contradictions were found in the fact that many officers were willing to engage with women on an emotional level and as people with complex histories, but did not always situate the behaviour of the women in the context of their past biographical experiences. Moreover, some staff engaged in behaviour that was antithetical to a trauma-informed environment. The forceful removal of clothing from women suspected of hiding contraband, and hospital escorts accompanied solely by male staff are among the examples offered by Auty et al.
It is our contention that some of the triggers of trauma are environmental and that solutions should be sought in design practice as well as operational culture and healthcare delivery.
In , the Governor of HMP Drake Hall gave a conference presentation in which he highlighted some of the improvements made to the interiors of the prison buildings as part of their TICP strategy [ 32 ]. However, the limitations of trying to introduce trauma-informed, gender-responsive design cues into an environment originally constructed to house World War II munitions workers and subsequently male prisoners were plain to see.
Bateman et al. However, far from being welcoming places that promote feelings of safety and wellbeing, most prisons are fear-inducing environments for many prisoners and also, for some prison staff and researchers.
They are also antithetical to building a sense of autonomy and empowerment. Reception areas, where prisoners are processed on admission into custody, can be particularly damaging because the administrative demands of efficiency plus procedural and peripheral security tend to be incompatible with the concerns of the individual prisoner who, when she most needs it, is given little opportunity to discuss the reality of the world she is entering or her fears concerning unresolved problems on the outside e.
Clearly, situations such as this are traumatic for the newly arrived prisoner. These opportunities might come eventually, but at the point of greatest stress, the needs of the system come before the needs of the individual. For those who arrive at prison already affected by their negative life experiences, further trauma exposure appears almost inevitable:.
Prisons are challenging settings for trauma-informed care. Prisons are designed to house perpetrators, not victims. Inmates arrive shackled and are crammed into overcrowded housing units; lights are on all night, loud speakers blare without warning and privacy is severely limited. Security staff is focused on maintaining order and must assume each inmate is potentially violent.
The correctional environment is full of unavoidable triggers, such as pat downs and strip searches, frequent discipline from authority figures, and restricted movement … This is likely to increase trauma-related behaviors and symptoms that can be difficult for prison staff to manage [ 35 ] p.
Crewe et al. In addition to the perpetrator- not victim- orientated dimensions such as intrusive search techniques highlighted by Miller and Najavits, we might add many others, including: harsh, unnatural lighting, sterile spaces literally and metaphorically , desolate holding cells, loud, unexpected noises, personal possessions boxed up into containers, institutional showers in full view of reception staff, sounds of distress from other inmates, and the fear of not knowing what happens next.
Yet if we pay closer attention to what is known about individuals who have undergone some kind of trauma or distress, with a view to trying to design environments which do not inflict further psychological damage, there are some perhaps fairly obvious design cues that could be incorporated into custodial facilities. Research on other institutional settings is useful here. In his classic work, Institutional Settings: An Environmental Design Approach , Mayer Spivack [ 36 ] offers strategies for diagnosing a sick building that is making sick individuals worse.
For example: Does removal from particular areas of the prison isolate sources of trouble that triggered, exacerbated or contributed to symptoms of trauma? Can elements of the Indoor Environmental Quality IEQ be controlled to reduce undesired stimuli to more tolerable filterable levels? These were not expressed as mere preferences, but were framed as matters of ontological security which, if not present, are apt to trigger mental instability and trauma.
Design innovation may not be straightforward, however. Contemporary prison architecture has hardly moved forward since HMP Holloway opened in , originally to take adult males. When spatial experiments have periodically been tried as at Cornton Vale , the tragic consequences of their design flaws have ensured that architects and commissioners have fallen back on the tried-and-tested designs of history.
One of the other limitations on design innovation is that the professionals who work on prison commissions commonly specialise in custodial, justice or security portfolios and most have previously designed many other prisons.
In another sense, however, prison architects are not at all self-referential. Prisons, therefore, may fail to generate the kind of empathetic engagement between architects and end users that other institutions do commissions for schools, hospitals, even residential care homes for the elderly all involve an extended network of active consumers who the architect can identify with personally, as well as professionally; see Buse et al. An added problem with designing gender-appropriate custodial facilities is that architects who work on prisons for females are overwhelmingly male.
In a recent study drawing-on interviews with fourteen lead architects on new prison commissions, only one a landscape architect was a woman [ 37 ]. Male architects are no more immune from the dominant cultural repertoire that imbues women in prison with negative and overwhelmingly tragic stereotypes than anyone else. It is little wonder, then, that professionals who design prisons neither design empathetically on the basis of shared experiences and vulnerabilities, nor imbue the eventual occupants of their buildings with positive qualities and potential to radically transform their lives.
The question is, then, could prisons be designed to heal rather than cause further harm and to arrest or even reverse trauma?
Could prison architects borrow some of the architectural cues from pioneering healthcare centres, which are explicitly designed to be trauma-sensitive? They are linked by design that is defined by inarguably positive qualities: light, space, openness, tranquility, intimacy, views, connectedness to nature, and domestic i. Here, there are no cold metal or plastic surfaces that many patients with neutropenia find unpleasant to touch, yet are common in conventional hospitals.
Instead, sensory delight comes from the beautiful tulipwood from which the building is constructed. Aware of the difficulties that some traumatised cancer patients have in making direct eye contact with strangers in an open space, especially when talking about their deepest fears, the architects incorporated the tree and the external views to give them something else to look beyond to.
A balcony with a deep overhang, shields patients from direct sunlight and cork panels soften the acoustics. Inverclyde was designed with curves and undulations, rather than long, straight corridors and flat planes—not only more aesthetically pleasing but ensuring good sightlines and avoiding traumatised individuals being taken by surprise by someone suddenly appearing from around a corner.
Surfaces were to be warm to the touch, finishes were domestic in feel, colour schemes were soothing, and every bedroom for they were not going to be called cells was equipped with an en-suite bathroom. Bedrooms were designed to look and feel more like a student residence than prison cells, with fully controllable heating and ventilation, rounded corners and junctions on the furniture, and a desk with a computer.
Each bedroom had a large, bar-less window with curtains and with views overlooking the stunning landscape, not a perimeter wall.
Beds were easily converted into sofas, facing a television, and storage including drawers under the bed was ample. The rooms were designed to be ligature-free and to conform to national legal requirements and international standards of best practice, but the designers went much further than either, in creating de-institutionalised, trauma-reducing environments that would give their occupants privacy and safety while also nurturing a sense of autonomy, reflection, and empowerment.
Rooms for mothers with babies were the same as double rooms, with the second bed replaced by a cot. The prison was to be built on a large footprint, allowing plenty of freedom of movement and the women were to be entrusted to move around the site largely unescorted. Communal areas of the prison, including reception, the visiting centre and association spaces in the accommodation buildings, were designed to have the look and feel of any other kind of civic building—a shopping mall, airport lounge, or even a hotel.
A large proportion of the budget was to be spent on attractive landscaping, to include horticulture and animal husbandry. In summary, prison managers and staff must be cognisant of the spaces within a prison most likely to trigger, exacerbate or contribute to symptoms of trauma and consider how they can be designed to feel welcoming and safe.
Prison environments should be designed to reduce feelings of incompetence and inability to cope and support positive re definitions of self and identity.
The contemporary model of prison architecture: Spatial response to the re-socialization programme
Placing prison design in historical and geographical perspectives, the chapter considers how evolving penal philosophies have been manifested in the form and fabric of prison buildings over the last two centuries. The current policy context in the UK, as new prisons have been built in Scotland and are being planned for England and Wales and Northern Ireland, is discussed. It is argued that this represents a rare opportunity not only to build new facilities that are fit-for-purpose but to re-assess how their aesthetic and spatial design might be mobilized to support a different model of criminal justice than that which has dominated since the last major wave of prison construction in the s. It is suggested that it may be more effective in the long term to influence public opinion through humane prison design than it is to build new prisons based on assumptions about public expectations. Access to the complete content on Law Trove requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription. Please subscribe or login to access full text content.
The history of prison architecture concerns the development of various design formats. In contemporary terms, punishment and re-socialization are the two equally important purposes of a prison institution. Rightfully, the contemporary model of prison architecture may be viewed, inter alia, as a spatial response to the re-socialization programme. Based on a comprehensive literature review, critical discussion, and scientific description, this paper defines the main qualitative elements of prison architecture, which responds to the requirements for re-socialization of inmates, and further explains the way in which each response is provided. From these architectural and design attributes, a list of 30 indicators of the spatial response to re-socialization was established. Furthermore, by using the derived indicators, a comparative analysis of four contemporary European prisons was conducted. The results showed both similarities and differences in the spatial response to the re-socialization programme, indicating that the spatial potential for re-socialization of inmates may be developed by using various approaches to prison design.
There has been growing acknowledgment among scholars, prison staff and policy-makers that gender-informed thinking should feed into penal policy but must be implemented holistically if gains are to be made in reducing trauma, saving lives, ensuring emotional wellbeing and promoting desistance from crime. This article problematises the Trauma-Informed Care and Practice TICP initiatives recently rolled out across the female prison estate, arguing that attempts to introduce trauma-sensitive services in establishments that are replete with hostile architecture, overt security paraphernalia, and dilapidated fixtures and fittings is futile. Using examples from healthcare and custodial settings, the article puts forward suggestions for prison commissioners, planners and architects which we believe will have novel implications for prison planning and penal practice in the UK and beyond. Social scientists have emphasised the coercive elements of psychiatry and mental healthcare e.
Understanding the prison from this angle does not necessarily mean restricting oneself to a purely morphological approach, of more interest to architects than to the social sciences. Architecture, it is true, can be misleading as it imposes through the strength and evidence of built-up space.
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