why

In the nineteenth century, European states turned to deprivation of liberty as their punishment of choice. Largely because society defined that the most important value for human beings was individual freedom.

An arena was created for such deprivation to take place: prison. A new type of institutional architecture was developed. The buildings designed offered an ideal solution for the recurrent way of punishment – solitary confinement. A clear collaboration between the built environment and the ideology of punishment.

The strategy of solitary confinement was, however, questioned in the beginning of the 20th century. Psychologists and anthropologists expressed suspicion towards isolation, saying that it had negative outcomes – bad mental and physical health. In the second half of the 20th century, the ideology of punishment was therefore revolutionised – from solitary confinement to community confinement.

A development which laid the foundation for today’s penology: in Europe, it was decided that the prison sentence should only consist of the deprivation of liberty: “People are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment”. Since then, a large amount of laws and recommendations have been made by supervisory bodies, aiming to protect this principle.

Society has thus come a long way since we first started to use prisons as a means of punishment. However, despite major developments in European legislation and penology, there is currently a gap between theory and practice. Even though societies have gone through massive changes, our current prison system is a result of continuously modernising the past.

Through decades, the concept of prison has stayed the same, along with measures like control, security and isolation. Today, these measures take place with new and extended technologies. Although the appearance is modernised, our built environment continues as an extension of the 19th century design.

Many of today’s prisons are outdated – built for another purpose in another time. When building new prisons, the past is repeated.  These old prisons, or new prisons with this old design, often make it challenging to apply the current European penology in practice.

RESCALED therefore suggests that we think differently within modern European legislation and penology. We propose an alternative, which we believe is a better fit for the 21st century: small-scale, differentiated and community-integrated detention houses.

We believe that with detention houses, it will be easier to apply these laws and principles in practice. Hence, the gap between theory and practice could be reduced if we rethink the concept of detention.  When small-scale, it will be easier for incarcerated persons to build trust, make choices and gain responsibility, which is a prerequisite for everyday life in the 21st century. When differentiated, incarcerated persons will serve their sentence at the right security level and receive the support they need, which means that they are better prepared for release. When community-integrated, incarcerated persons will be able to stay connected to community-life. Rather than leaving prison with anxiety and all their belongings in a plastic bag, they will leave the detention house as a part of the community – with a good support system and the tools they need to face life after release.

Detention houses are small-scale, differentiated and community-integrated, and offer a sustainable and future-oriented approach. This will be beneficial not only for those incarcerated, but also for their friends and families, staff, local communities and society at large. Our vision is that one day, societies are inclusive, safe and sustainable.

why

In the nineteenth century, European states turned to deprivation of liberty as their punishment of choice[1]. Largely because society defined that the most important value for human beings was individual freedom.

An arena was created for such deprivation to take place: prison. A new type of institutional architecture was developed. The buildings designed offered an ideal solution for the recurrent way of punishment – solitary confinement[2]. A clear collaboration between built environment and the ideology of punishment.

The strategy of solitary confinement was, however, questioned in the beginning of the 20th century[3]. Psychologists and anthropologists expressed suspicion towards isolation, saying that it had negative outcomes – resulting in bad mental and physical health. In the second half of the 20th century, the ideology of punishment was therefore revolutionised – from solitary confinement to community confinement.

A development which laid the foundation for today’s penology: in Europe, it was decided that the prison sentence should only consist of the deprivation of liberty: “People are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment”. Since then, a large amount of laws and recommendations[4] have been made by supervisory bodies[5], aiming to protect this principle.

Society has thus come a long way since we first started to use prisons as a means of punishment. However, despite major developments in European legislation and penology, there is currently a gap between theory and practice. Even though societies have gone through massive changes, our current prison system is a result of continuously modernising the past[6]

Through decades, the concept of prison has stayed the same, along with measures like control, security and isolation[7]. Today, these measures take place with new and extended technologies. Although the appearance is modernised, our built environment continues as an extension of the 19th century design.[8]

Many of today’s prisons are outdated – built for another purpose in another time. When building new prisons, the past is repeated.  These old prisons, or new prisons with this old design, often make it challenging to apply the current European penology in practice.

RESCALED therefore suggests that we think differently within modern European legislation and penology. We propose an alternative, which we believe is a better fit for the 21st century: small-scale, differentiated and community-integrated detention houses.

We believe that with detention houses, it will be easier to apply these laws and principles in practice. Hence, the gap between theory and practice could be reduced if we rethink the concept of detention.  When small-scale, it will be easier for incarcerated persons to build trust, make choices and gain responsibility, which is a prerequisite for everyday life in the 21st century. When being differentiated, incarcerated persons will serve their sentence at the right security level and receive the support they need, which means that they are better prepared for release. When being community-integrated, incarcerated persons will be able to stay connected to community-life. Rather than leaving prison with anxiety and all their belongings in a plastic bag, they will leave the detention house as a part of the community – with a good support system and the tools they need to face life after release.

Detention houses are small-scale, differentiated and community-integrated, and offer a sustainable and future-oriented approach. This will be beneficial not only for those incarcerated[9], but also for their friends and families, staff[10], local communities[11] and society at large[12]. Our vision is that one day, societies are inclusive, safe and sustainable.

Those deprived of liberty should not be deprived of their dignity and or human rights.
Those deprived of liberty should not be deprived of their dignity and or human rights.
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