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Recent trends in prison design

The general approach to prison layout in recent times is what is known as a 'campus' style design.

The key element of this design is to enclose a larger space within a very secure perimeter fence, within which a number of zones can be established.

Prisoner accommodation

A number of largely self-contained accommodation units provide housing for inmates of all classifications. A

ccommodation units for higher security prisoners and for groups requiring separation or protection are fenced to create zones in which prisoner movement can be controlled, enhancing the safety and security of the prison environment.

Prisoner services zone

This zone incorporates buildings which provide for shared services such as health, education, program activities, workshops, active recreation and prisoner visits.

These buildings are located so that they can be accessed by inmates from different units within the complex. 

Movement can be controlled so that, where necessary, inmates can be kept apart.

Buildings in this zone are also located in such a way that visitors to the complex are able to obtain access from outside the prison through an area in which prisoner movement is controlled.

The campus design is supported by extensive use of security and other technology.

Prisoner movement is managed far more efficiently and cost effectively through the use of remotely operated electronic locks coupled with video surveillance, and/or other methods of movement control such as the use of "smart card" technology.

Having a range of accommodation options within the complex also provides an incentive for inmates to be encouraged to move to areas where they take more direct responsibility for their units and in such things as meals preparation, which assists in their preparation for release.

Experience in many prisons which operate such systems has shown the benefits of this approach, in terms of both rehabilitation and in the way in which the facilities are looked after and the general atmosphere of the prison.

It also recognises that while inmates may be classified as maximum security because of the length of time they still have to serve, their behaviour may warrant them moving to the type of accommodation where they can be somewhat more independent, and prison design and facilities should allow for this to occur.

The model for Tasmania

One of the complexities facing Tasmania is the requirement to accommodate all the differing groups requiring separate management within a system whose overall size doesn't justify separate specialist facilities.

Even if the option of one larger prison to replace Risdon and Hayes is ultimately pursued, the size of the 500 bed prison that would be required would still be smaller than the 600 plus size which is considered optimum for cost-effective construction and operation.

The requirement to accommodate all prisoners, male and female, at the one site, from the watch-house stage, through remand, to serving out the sentence imposed is not common, but is now being incorporated in other States in certain regional locations.

The concept of an all-purpose, generalist style of prison, such as is proposed at Risdon is supported by the experience of those jurisdictions.