According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (PDF), over half of all prisoners in U.S. correctional facilities have experienced abuse, trauma, or mental illness—75% of all female inmates and 63% of males.
The justice system should recognize that this large population of people are not just prisoners but patients, and a priority should be placed on their physical and mental health.
Inmate rehabilitation efforts are not one-size-fits all. Those who struggle with addiction or mental health issues have different needs than inmates who do not and should be accommodated with appropriate housing.
Until recently, facilities have not been designed to address this problem, but now the trend is to create spaces where mental health needs are a top priority. Experts say there is no universal approach, and men, women, and juveniles all require different housing. Once that housing is tailored to the group, security can be addressed.
Las Colinas has set an example in this way of thinking. There, they recognize the importance of a healing environment to promote well-being and prevent psychological deterioration in inmates.
Read more about prison design trends that foster rehabilitation.