Does prison architecture have to be cruel? This prison shows us it doesn’t | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 12, 2024

How should a prison be designed? Should it purposefully be designed to punish inmates using uninviting materials such as steel and concrete, or should it be a place that invites criminals to rehabilitate themselves?

While most prisons around the world are designed in a way that aligns with the first option, Halden Prison in Norway has taken a whole different route. Instead of consolidating the prison into one single building, which is how most prisons are built, Halden has a campus design where inmate move from one building to another and are surrounded by lots of windows. It also uses construction materials that muffle noise and take advantage of natural light.

The prison’s layout also encourages guards to interact with inmates face to face, which has been shown to foster better relationships and reduce security-related incidents. The only thing is Halden’s design style is expensive — which is why we mostly see it implemented in places with good social support systems, like Western Europe and Scandinavia.

Still, the design is showing that there are better ways to design prisons so that they can actually “correct” criminal behavior, which is what prisons are supposed to do in the first place.

This story was one of the best from 2019, and we are happy to include it in our “12 Days of Optimism” as we get ready to welcome 2020!

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