When rehabilitation is the ultimate goal, the overall size of the prison needs to shrink. For effective reform, experts suggest no more than 1,000 inmates.
This small number allows employees and administrators to get to know the inmates better and facilitates an individual approach to their rehabilitation. Accounting for individual inmates’ strengths and weaknesses provides a greater opportunity to prepare inmates for successful transitions out of the system and into society.
Smaller numbers also mean prisons can be designed with campus-style layouts, which are growing in popularity. It’s a layout that mimics communities, and inmates are housed in adjacent self-sufficient units according to security risk and needs. Like college campuses, these prisons have an abundance of communal spaces such as dining areas, kitchens, laundry rooms, study halls, entertainment areas, and gyms.
At Bastøy prison in Norway (pictured above), inmates are housed in wooden bungalows. Each house can accommodate six prisoners, and while they have their own rooms, they share a kitchen and other facilities. The men earn a wage and shop for provisions at the island’s supermarket for their self-prepared breakfasts and dinners. This environment gets the inmates used to what life will be like on the outside.
Read more about prison design trends that foster rehabilitation.