The first design also referred to as the first generation jails were established during the 18th century. The first design consisted of division of the spaces to form fixed cells or seating areas that resembled cages. The rows of the prison cells had autonomous cell blocks that were facing the spacious cage-like areas. The prisoners were kept in the cages like animals and were allowed minimal contact with the wardens. The prisoners experienced extreme boredom and idleness that occasionally led to fighting and violent outbursts. The wardens passed food to the prisoners through the slotted door spaces in the prison cells. Though there are many changes in the design of prisons, some prisons retain the first generational designs.
The foregoing shows that the first generation jail designs were characterized by limited access. The access even to the sanitary facilities such as washrooms and showers was highly regulated. Consequently, there were short supply of items such as soap, toilet paper, towels, and clean beddings. The short supply of such amenities usually led to health risk and an increase in the rate of infectious diseases as was characteristic of most prison facilities. The limited supply of amenities and limited interaction between the guards and the prisoners suggests that the overall safety and security of the prisoners was not guaranteed. To be able to house women and juveniles, the first generation jail designs ought to increase surveillance since juveniles require more attention. Accordingly, to house women, there should be greater physical separation of inmates.
The second generation of jail design adopted a linear structural approach incorporating multiple-habitation jail cells and dormitories lined up alongside corridors. In some instances, the dormitories would be positioned at acute angles in a bid to create a spoke-like outcome. Similar to the first generation jail design, the second design was also intended to be operated by a minimum number of staff. In order to control the activities of the prisoners and augment the supervision by the staff, there was the introduction of the closed-circuit television (CCTV) as well as audio surveillance. Accordingly, the design also made sure that there was limited interaction between the prisoners and the staff. The supervision of the inmates is achieved through irregular patrols along the corridors and use of technology. Just like the first generation designs, the second generation design require more physical separation, increased staff, and enhanced surveillance in order to house juveniles and women.
Approximately one thousand second generation jails in the counties and cities were constructed during the 1970s and ‘80s. During that period the second generation jails contributed to about thirty percent of the jails in the United States as per the study carried out by the National institute of Corrections in 1985. Although there was apparent improvement in the design of the prison facilities from the first generation jail design, the second generation jails experienced challenges that were similar to the first generation jails. Some of the challenges included shortage of amenities, crowding, upkeep challenges, and lack of sufficient physical separation between the different categories of inmates.
There was the emergence of a third generation jail design during the initial period of the 1970s. The third generation designs emerged despite the fact that most districts and cities continued to preserve old-fashioned jail designs while constructing new ones. The United States department of justice through the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and the United States Bureau of Prisons contracted several prominent architectural companies to create new designs for jails and prisons. Consequently, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) established national guidelines to assist in planning and designing regional and community based adult correction centers. Further, the LEAA began to provide support through the National Clearinghouse for Criminal Justice Planning and Architecture to the federal facilities and programs that incorporated advanced practices. The national guidelines adopted an open structural approach mainly focusing on the existing relationship between the courts, the police, the correctional facilities, and other interrelated but independent agencies. This approach was aimed at achieving a synchronized and reliable response to crime throughout the United States. The national guidelines, various technical assistance and demonstration projects in addition to federal subsidies were the defining moment in the quest for the improved third generation jail designs and better correctional facilities.
The new third generation designs were informed by theoretical attitudes and humanitarian considerations. Humane treatment required that convicted offenders be the focus of every correctional facility (Wortley, 2002, p. 85). The humanitarian and theoretical consideration in programing determined the physical designs of prisons and jails. Some of the notable third generation jail designs include the federal correctional facilities in Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Juan, and Brooklyn. These facilities were constructed between 1974 and during the early 1990s.
The differences between the third generation jail designs and the previous designs are more pronounced. Most jails are housed in multifunctional public buildings that share space with law courts and related public correctional and social services. The intake of the prisoners takes the form of open-booking concept where staffs sit behind a counter. The housing of an inmate in third generation jails adopts a module concept. The module concept ensures that inmates are housed in groups. Each of the modules is staffed day and night by correctional officers who undergo special training. Further, each module is self-sufficient in terms of programing, recreation, housing and visiting of inmates, and connected activities. Accordingly, the third generation jail designs enhance the security of every inmate and increase the interaction between correctional staff and the inmates. The interior and the exterior designs of the third generation jails enhance normalcy except areas that are specifically exclude for the purposes of discipline and exclusion. The third generation designs increase direct supervision and are equipped with sinks, water dispensers, counters, and telephones that inmates can access in the recreational rooms. Various modules have exercising facilities that enable prisoners to exercise while jail cells are spacious and installed with desks, running water, intercoms, seats, and are fitted with big windows. In comparison with the first and second generation jail designs, the third generation design provides a more humane and safer environment for the inmates as well as the staff (Wener, 2012, p. 102). Since the admission into third generation designs are based on modules and each module is autonomous, they can comfortably house women and juveniles.
Wener, R. (2012). The Environmental Psychology of Prisons and Jails: Creating Humane
Spaces in Secure Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wortley, R. (2002). Situational Prison Control: Crime Prevention in Correctional Institutions.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.