More prisons, further away: a closer look at the expanding global prison estate

Edith Riegler6th July 2022


Marayca Lopez, 12th Jul 2022 at 22:03

Great article, Edith. I would like to add to your observations, that the ultimate location/placement of a facility is driven in many cases by the availability of land and the costs of land acquisitionparticularly when the respective Agency does not own that piece of land. Usually facilities are ultimately build in pieces of land that the Government already owns, to save money. Secondly, and even more of a key determinant, is the size (bedspace capacity and total square footage) of the porposed new facilities. Europe is lucky in that the size of their prisons range between 500 and the low 1,000. Elsewhere, and particularly the USA and most of the Latin American countries, are building “mega” facilities of thousand of beds. This requires a lot of land, and it is not easy, if not impossible, to find available acrage in urban/sub-urban areas, which pushes and forces the location of these facilities to remote areas where more land is available. The only way to fit large facilities in urban/sub-urban areas of thousand of beds would require a vertical construction (of many many floors). So, when planning new facilities, we should be helping the user agencies to decide not how big, but how small these facilities should be and take a holistic look at the criminal justice system as the only way to reduce the caoacity needs of prison systems worldwide. Again, thanks a lot for your article.

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