1st Edition

Health and Well-Being in Prison Design A Theory of Prison Systems and a Framework for Evolution

By Alberto Urrutia-Moldes Copyright 2022
    288 Pages 87 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    288 Pages 87 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book establishes a new framework for prison design to promote the health and well-being of all prison users. Based on international research in Norway, Finland, the USA, and Chile, and drawing on the expertise of key international advisors, this book uniquely reveals the perspectives of both designers and prison authorities concerning well-being in prison architecture. It is the first book to compare perspectives between prison models while providing essential guidance for the design of prison environments to promote the rehabilitation of inmates and their desistance from crime.

    The promotion of health and well-being of people in prison is vital to enable rehabilitation. Traditional prison architecture severely weakens both rehabilitation efforts and opportunities for desistance. Only a handful of prison systems in the world have shown significant changes in their prison designs. Underpinned by Critical Realism and the PERMA theory of well-being, this book reveals significant new insights to inform prison design. The author presents international case study research with interviews with prison authorities and designers from four countries and the three different prison models, as well as key international United Nations advisors. For the first time the visions of prison designers are contrasted with those of prison authorities, bringing a new synthesised understanding of the differences and similarities in their approach to the health and well-being of both inmates and staff from which to generate a new framework for design considerations.

    This book illuminates new directions for prison design and is essential reading for policymakers, academics, and students involved in the study and development of criminology, corrections, and penology. It is also an indispensable source of up-to-date knowledge for prison authorities, public health officials, architects, and designers involved in the design of prisons and any other type of coercive detention facilities.


    What is this book about?

    Why health and well-being in prisons?

    The relation between health and well-being

    The challenge of health and well-being in prisons

    Structure of this Book


    Chapter 1: Theoretical standpoints

    The roots of well-being

    Seligman’s theory of well-being

    Critical Realism: a theoretical lens to understand imprisonment

    Chapter 2: Punishment and prison design

    Ethical considerations in prison design

    The justifications for punishment

    Building a typological theory of prison systems

    Chapter 3: Evolution of prison models from the birth of the prison to the nineteenth century

    From late antiquity to the prison reform

    The birth of the Security prison model: Nineteenth-century prison reform in the US

    Scandinavian Repressive system before the Rehabilitation prison model

    Latin American prison development and the Repressive roots of its Hybrid model

    Chapter 4: Prison models: recent history, and development from the twentieth century to the present

    Prisons designed for behavioural change

    Safety prison model development

    The Rehabilitation, prison model’s consolidation

    Hybrid prison model in Chilean and Latin American prisons in the twentieth century to date


    Chapter 5: Why should prison design promote health and well-being?

    The role of health and well-being in prisons and prison design

    International concerns related to health and well-being in prison

    Latest developments in prison architecture research

    Chapter 6: Environmental stressors to health

    Physical environmental stressors

    Psychological environmental stressors

    Summary of findings


    Introduction to Part III

    Chapter 7: International Advisors

    Prison Policy Advisors

    Prison Health Advisors

    Comparative analysis between both groups

    Key emerging themes and Meta-themes

    Chapter 8: The Hybrid prison model

    Chilean prison design in the context


    Thematic areas emerging from High-level Staff interviews

    Thematic areas emerging from prison designers' interviews.

    Key emerging themes and Meta-themes

    Chapter 9: The Security prison model

    Prison design context in the US


    Thematic areas arising from High-level Staff interviews

    Thematic areas emerging from Independent Designers’ interviews

    Key emerging themes and Meta-themes

    Chapter 10: The Rehabilitation prison model

    Prison design context


    Thematic areas emerging from High-level Staff interviews

    Thematic areas arising from Governmental Designers’ interviews

    Thematic areas emerging from Independent Designers' interviews

    Key themes emerging from the Rehabilitation prison model


    Chapter 11: Cross-case comparison of prison models

    Summarising and organising individual case findings

    Cross-case comparison among high-level staff

    Cross-case comparison among designers

    How and why are some issues ignored?

    Chapter 12: Towards a new outline framework to design prisons that promote health and well-being

    Building the new outline framework for prison design

    Organised hypocrisy in prison services

    Recommendations for promoting health and well-being in prison design.

    Appendix A

    Appendix B

    Appendix C




    Alberto Urrutia-Moldes holds a PhD in prison architecture from the University of Sheffield in the UK. He also has a BSc in Industrial Engineering (2008) and a BSc in Construction Management (1993), both from the University of the Bío-Bío in Chile. After graduating as Construction Manager, he started working in the construction industry for private companies until 1998, when he was appointed head of the regional office of infrastructure at the Bío-Bío Regional Directorate of the Chilean prison service in the city of Concepción. In this capacity, Alberto was responsible for addressing the needs of the 24 prison and parole facilities across 14 cities in the Bío-Bío region. He was later appointed as the head of the projects and planning office at the same regional directorate. In tandem with his job in the Chilean prison service, he has worked since 2006 as a part-time lecturer in construction management at the School of Construction Engineering at the University of the Bío-Bío. In 2012 he co-organised – with the Faculty of Architecture at the University of the Bío-Bío – the first conference in prison architecture held in Chile, and then co-edited the book 1st Seminar of Prison Architecture for Social Reinsertion, which contains the main presentations of the two-day conference. In 2014 he moved to the UK, where he started his PhD programme, being awarded a Doctoral degree in March 2020.

    "Health and Well-Being in Prison Design is an overview of how prison architecture and design can support psychological and ethical principles to enable offenders’ rehabilitation. I highly recommend this book to those who want to develop the prison system."

    Pia Puolakka, Project Manager of Smart Prison project, Criminal Sanctions Agency, Finland

    "Health and Well-Being in Prison Design is an academically grounded plea for more humanity in prison design. Prisons are not containers for holding human beings securely. Dr. Urrutia-Moldes reminds us that well-designed prison facilities are essential for the enhancement of inmates’ health and well-being. A much-needed guide for prison designers and policy-makers, this book pinpoints key human factors affecting well-being in prison and, ultimately, the prisoners’ rehabilitation chances. The important message is that there is no need to choose between security and well-being in prisons. Security can be strengthened by improving the inmates’ well-being, also through careful and considerate prison design."

    Piera Barzanò, former Senior Interregional Advisor (Penal reform), UNODC, Vienna

    "In this book, you will identify the philosophies behind architectural models of prisons, which focus on repression, security, rehabilitation, or hybrid approaches. By disclosing the physical and psychological aggressors on the well-being of inmates and prison staff, this monograph emerges as a critical tool to make evidence-based decisions, particularly for developing countries, to promote positive and lasting change."

    Alberto Urzúa Toledo, Director of the Centre for Public Innovations for Latin America

    "Dr Urrutia-Moldes has written a comprehensive, must-read text on how the justice system can contribute to a more civilized society through improved design of prisons. His analysis of the pathways to intelligent and humane prison design is excellent. This book will serve as a wake-up call for prison designers as well as correctional authorities.

    I recommend this book to anyone interested in the development of our prison systems. It will give you a rare insight into prison design, whether you are a government official, social scientist, designer, or first-year student. I hope that this book will be a required curriculum in education, from prison staff to students of architecture and social sciences.

    Health and Well-Being in Prison Design by Dr Urrutia-Moldes is a good read and highly relevant for designers not only of prisons but also of other social institutions for vulnerable citizens."

    Stein Erik Laeskogen MSc., Principal Engineer, The Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property (Statsbygg)