Vertical Prison leaves criminals up in the air
The idea of tailoring architecture to the requirements of a prison is by no means new - most famously the Panopticon design by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham has been the blueprint for many prisons since the late 1800s. A new Vertical Prison concept is not as draconian in its ambitions with its aim of rehabilitating prisoners by allowing them to remain a part of society and allow them to contribute to it, while using height as a wall to separate them from it.
The Vertical Prison was designed by Malaysian architecture students Chow Khoon Toong, Ong Tien Yee, and Beh Ssi Cze, and took first place in eVolo Magazine’s annual Skyscraper Competition. Their project examines the possibility of creating a prison-city in the sky, where the inmates would live in a “free” and productive community with agricultural fields, factories and recycling plants that would be operated by the offenders as a way to give back to the community and support the host city below them.
Recognizing that many prisons are nothing more than a school for criminals, the prison design aims to rehabilitate inmates by invoking a sense of community. In allowing the prison to become a part of the community and form a symbiotic relationship with the it, the designers also believe that the social stigma of a prison would be softened resulting in greater acceptance of inmates and a better chance they will be given another opportunity upon re-entering society after their incarceration.
The Vertical Prison employs a modular design to maximize flexibility. A girder box structure is used to house a variety of different units and form a communal space. Inmates are housed in Cell Units that themselves can be customized with different "loopholes" or openings appropriate to the behavior or level of danger of the inmate. Depending on its location within a city the prison could include Agricultural Units to grow food for the city, Industrial Units to help in the recycling of industrial waste or Juvenile Units to scare kids straight.
Transport to and from the prison is via various pods that travel along the frames supporting the prison. Transport Pods are the primary transport vehicle and can also be used for daily surveillance. Heavy Lift Pods serve as vertical lift transport for delivering cargo to market or to transport other pods to the ground. Armored Riot Control Pods are armed with both lethal and non-lethal weapons as well as airdrop capabilities for keeping prisoners in check. Medevac Pods are equipped with airlift capabilities and paramedic equipment, while the Fire Rescue Pod also has air lift capabilities and fire-fighting apparatus.
Given the cost of such a system, not to mention the difficulty any city would face in trying to convince nearby residents a prison with no walls above their neighborhood is a good idea, it’s probably not likely we’ll see any Vertical Prisons appearing on city skylines anytime soon. But kudos to the designers for giving some serious thought into an equally serious problem.
Recidivism rates among prisoners suggest the system – in the US at least and the many countries with similar systems – is not working. In California, which has the highest recidivism rate in the US, seven out of ten prisoners return to prison within three years. That translates to a tremendous burden on the taxpayer. So if the new prison concept was found to be successful, ideas like it might not be as expensive in the long run as they first appear.
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As the old adage says don't do the crime if you can't do the time, unfortunately in a lot of cases the time is easy and luxurious in comparison to say living on the street because the recession left you without a job and the bank reposed your home. I would rather see tax monies being spent helping those people and providing them with food shelter and the means necessary to get back to work, than being wasted on those people who have chosen a life of crime that never pay back to society what they take from it with no regard to others.
\"Human rights for prisoners? whatever next? If you commit a crime, bang goes your human rights! \" Is anyone here unaware of the fact that people are put in prison for smoking marijuana for instance, for not paying parking tickets, for a multitude of things, including in other countries homosexuality with a willing partner, infidelity (ie a married woman who is raped is considered adulterous), for writing newspaper articles on human rights etc? Is everyone here unaware that people who have been incarcerated include Nelson Mandela, Oscar Wilde (who died doing hard labour) etc? That using DNA testing several scores of convicted murderers have been found innocent after 20 yrs in jail etc? I hope none of you ever end up in jail for a night or three.
BTW, could we please comment on the VERTICAL PRISON DESIGN? The thing about the mines was interesting. But frankly, in the US and elsewhere, prisons are a BUSINESS... the people who run them lobby to build more, sell all services from food to security to clothing to the govt, ie it is a captive consumer group that puts billions upon billions of dollars into the pockets of the contractors and the govt. We need prison alternatives. Not more prisons.