The current prison system in America was put in place in 1891 under the Three Prisons Act. Jail and prison designs have historically been meant to keep those on the inside in and those on the outside out. Jails have many design flaws that are detrimental to a prisoner’s health. They tend to be overcrowded, offer poor healthcare, lack privacy, and deprive people from stimulation which can exacerbate mental health problems. According to The Star Press, the Delaware County Justice Center in downtown Muncie experienced overcrowding. The facility had a maximum capacity of 220 inmates, but frequently housed over 300 inmates. A new jail in the former Wilson Middle School is expected to house 500-750 inmates. This stopgap solution to overcrowding solves some of the community problems of incarceration but does not go far enough to address other areas of incarceration in America. A solution to the current American prison design is what people are calling “humane prisons.” This design philosophy believes that American prisons could build more respect for their inmates by incorporating design elements that mimic daily life.
This presentation incorporates design ideas for the “new” jail facility of Delaware County with depictions of what sorts of features might make it more humane. Since it is already in use visits to the site may not be possible however, artist’s sketches can show features that may be possible and benefit the larger community through a change in incarceration philosophy as opposed to the current utilitarian approach.
Faculty Mentor: Gerald Waite
Department of Urban Planning