Can prisons be designed to reduce the likelihood of recidivism?
The Storstrøm prison in Denmark aims to do just that by modeling the prison's environment and routines on regular life.
"The grounds are modeled after a regular Danish village, complete with open space and buildings with distinctively Scandinavian architecture–think angled facades, lots of glass, and natural materials. You won’t see anyone “behind bars,” so to speak, as the individual cells look more like dorm rooms with windows, a bed, a private bathroom, desk, and reading lamp. There’s no central cafeteria; instead groups of four to seven cells share communal kitchens where they prepare their own meals. They also share a living area, which is furnished and painted so it doesn’t have an institutional feel."
Prisoners' routines are likewise modeled on regular life so that when they "are released, they’re acclimated to law-abiding life. The prison’s outdoor spaces are landscaped like a grassy park and there are even a few sculptures. “Streets,” meaning paved walkways, connect all the buildings and there are dedicated structures for workshops (all of the prisoners have to work), a grocery store, a church, a visitor center for families, a playground where incarcerated individuals can see their children during visitation, and a library."
“If you believe the architectural surroundings can have a positive effect on human well being and the overall ambition is to turn criminals into regular citizens finding their place in society, this seems to be a model to pursue.”
Images: 1, 2, 3.