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Sharing Exemplary Practices in Prison Design

Following the 2012 Mexico City ICPA Conference, the Board created a standing Planning and Design Committee. At the next two conferences in Colorado Springs, USA and Windhoek, Namibia, the fledgling Committee met with those attendees with an interest in the planning and design of prison environments. The consistent and overarching interest was the ability of the Committee to serve as a facilitator of information and examples of innovative approaches to planning and design for prison officials worldwide.

The ICPA Conference in Melbourne served as a turning point for the Committee. More delegates attended the two meetings than ever before and at the close of the conference, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) offered to develop a concept for a website that would facilitate the sharing of design examples, research documents, and access to thought leaders on a global scale. Since that time, through regular video conferencing and face-to-face meetings, design and technology staff from the UTS, ICPA, and the Committee have collaborated to develop a user-friendly website that will be accessible through the ICPA web site. The ICPA Board has provided a grant to UTS to develop and maintain the web site.

From the outset, the desire of the Planning and Design Committee has been to facilitate a platform of exemplary practices for prison environments that supported the goal of rehabilitation and treatment. Examples of prison environments reflecting a variety of programmatic missions, custody levels, size, and cost are being collected and assembled into an easy to use format with the aim of globally expanding the knowledge of “what works”. Too often, prison systems simply construct a newer version of their last prison, or one adapted from another jurisdiction.

Through a global platform of examples and contacts, prison directors can become more familiar with similar experiences from other jurisdictions and be better prepared to ask informed questions during the planning and design phases. While the initial focus will be on illustrating design concepts, in time, the website will provide information regarding technology that supports a rehabilitation focus in prison design and construction.

At the March ICPA Board meeting, the final design of the website will be presented and at the 2017 London ICPA Conference, several workshops are planned to demonstrate the service and to solicit examples from many delegates from around the world. The Committee aims to be the premier source of global exemplary practice in prison design by 2020. Much credit is due the ICPA Board for recognizing the need for such a resource and the UTS for their creative efforts in the design and maintenance of the website.

Author: Stephen Carter, Chairman ICPA Planning and Design Group