Prisons are beginning to adopt healthcare evidence-based design concepts demonstrating that access to natural light and fresh air, connectedness to nature, and thermal and acoustic comfort have a positive, beneficial impact on mental and social behavior. Healthy environments reduce the frequency and severity of anti-social behaviors and violence, as well as stress and anxiety.
Inmate living environments that promote rehabilitation are environments that feel like home and enhance the inmate’s quality of life through intellectual stimulation. In addition to the features above, an open setting with unobstructed views; landscaping; wooden doors, rather than barred; large windows; movable furniture; carpeting; low, acoustic tiled ceilings; acoustic wall panels; and soft textures and colors all help inmates maintain a calm state.
Not only do spaces designed with these features create a healthy and safe environment for prisoners, they have also been found to reduce employee sick days. When visitor areas are welcoming, inmates’ families and support systems are more inclined to visit, thus maintaining those crucial relationships that further incentivize rehabilitation.
The Las Colinas Detention & Re-Entry Facility, designed in partnership with KMD Architects and HMC Architects, is an excellent example of this theory in practice. Las Colinas is the first detention facility of its kind in the U.S. that uses environmental and behavioral psychology to improve the experience and behavior of both inmates and staff.
Read more about prison design trends that foster rehabilitation.