Prison Architecture and Design: Perspectives from Criminology and Carceral Geography

Yvonne Jewkes, Dominique Moran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


This chapter seeks to convey why the architecture and design of prisons is pivotal to a full and nuanced understanding of ‘prison studies’. Placing prison design in historical and geographical perspectives, we consider how evolving penal philosophies have been manifested in the form and fabric of prison buildings over the last two centuries. We discuss the current policy context in the UK, as new prisons have been built in Scotland and are being planned for England & Wales and Northern Ireland. We argue that this represents a rare opportunity, not only to build new facilities that are fit-for-purpose, but to re-assess how their aesthetic and spatial design might be mobilized to support a different model of criminal justice than that which has dominated since the last major wave of prison construction in the 1960s. Finally, we consider the relationship between prisons and the communities in which they are situated, and suggest that recently built prisons are no less a manifestation of society’s attitudes to offenders than Pentonville was in the mid-1800s. We suggest that it may be more effective in the long term to influence public opinion through humane prison design than it is to build new prisons based on assumptions about public expectations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Criminology
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780198719441
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

Bibliographical note

This material was originally published in Oxford Handbook of Criminology edited by Liebling, A., Maruna, S and McAra, L., and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press⟨=en&. For permission to reuse this material, please visit


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