You are on page 1of 15




1. Physical requirements for prisons involve more than cell

A prison should provide safe and secure conditions for prisoners and staff, and a decent quality of
life. This
depends on the provision of basic living conditions (light, water, sanitation, etc.)31 for an
appropriate number
of prisoners in a given physical living space, the necessary regulation and control of movement,
and various
facilities to provide an effective regime that supports the rehabilitation of prisoners.

2. A prison requires more space than the sum of areas required

for each function
In planning for a prison, it is critical to understand the difference between net space and gross
space. However,
there are multiple approaches for calculating net to gross ratios, and planners should be aware of
these choices and their implications. Some design briefs include areas for mechanical, electrical,
and IT rooms, as well as for toilets and showers, while others do not. As a result, design briefs can
vary considerably in their depiction of net area. It is important to clarify this aspect to ensure that
the total area requirements are understood.

3. Good security increases prisoner freedom

A prison that is controlled, safe and secure can allow the prisoner population a greater degree of
Given a secure cellblock yard, for example, prison staff can allow prisoners free access to the
open space.
However, if there are questions about their ability to secure control, prison staff is likely to
prevent prisoners
from moving outside their locked cells, thus reducing or eliminating the use of spaces intended to

4. A prison costs more to build than other buildings

Unless it is a low risk, open prison, a prison is generally enclosed with at least one, and often two,
walls or
fences, depending upon the level of risk that the prisoners pose to prison security and the public.
Prisons with

[Type text]

Page 1

high risk prisoners will likely have internal fences to create zoning to control movement within the
prison and to
define specific areas of activity such as work, education, administration, etc. Also, because
prisons are part of
public security infrastructure, building codes generally

5. Separation of categories
Rule 11 of the Mandela Rules is crucial to consider in the planning of prison infrastructure,
essential to both the
design of functional prison infrastructure and the provision of safe, decent, and humane
conditions. It is worth
quoting in its entirety:


[Type text]

Page 2


Design considerations
Ventilation and climate control
To protect the health and well-being of detained individuals, it is essential that facilities maintain
ventilation and temperature control.
The definition of an acceptable temperature range for the comfort of prisoners depends on local
variables such as humidity, temperature and air movement (all of which affect comfort
conditions), as well as
the design of the facility and management procedures. As such, each situation needs to be
examined on an
individual basis. With that caveat, a typical temperature range expectation may be:
15-25C for temperate climates
20-30C for warm climates


In the case of renovation to existing cells or dormitories, wherever possible, the window area
should be expanded to meet the eight percent requirement. Where infeasible, the window area
must be an absolute minimum of 0.1m2 per person.

Single and shared cells

[Type text]

Page 3

A cell is required to have 5.4m of floor space for one person, and the space between
walls may not be less than 2.15m.13 For two people, there must be at least 6.8m of floor space, if
single beds are used. No prisoner accommodation room may be less than 5.4m

Dormitories are spaces that house groups of prisoners. Bunk beds are often used to maximize the
space available for prisoner use. Allowing 1.6m2 per bed, a four person dormitory with single beds
measure 13.6m2 (3.4m2 x 4), while a four person dormitory with double bunk beds will provide an
amount of open space at 10.4m2 [(3.4m2 x 4) (1.6m2 x 2)].

[Type text]

Page 4

Toilets (Standard)
Number of toilets: At least 1 toilet per 25 prisoners.
Showers/bathing facilities
Number of showers: At least one bathing/shower installation per 50 prisoners.
Frequency of showers: At least one shower per week.
Yard area: At least 4m per prisoner.The total combined area for the yard and the
dayroom is at least 8m2 per prisoner.
Dayroom area: At least 2m per prisoner.
The total combined area for the yard and the dayroom is at least 8m2 per prisoner.
Toilets and bathing facilities (for prisoners with disabilities)
Number of accessible toilets: 10% of cells are to contain accessible toilets.
Dimensions of combined facilities: 2.2m x 2.8m

[Type text]

Page 5

Isolation cells
In addition to the absolute prohibition on dark isolation cells, isolation cells must
meet all minimum
requirements regarding space, lighting and ventilation for cells, and provide suitable
hygiene facilities.
Floor area (net): At least 5.4m2, for single cell accommodation (ICRC)
At least 3.4m2 per person, for shared accommodation.
Distance b/w walls: At least 2.15m (ICRC)
Height of the room: At least 2.45m, but more may be needed in warmer climates
Ventilation area: At least 4% of the net floor area (IBC)
Where infeasible, must be greater than .1m2/person.
Day lighting area: Total clear glazed window area, at least 8% of the net floor area.
Where infeasible, must be greater than .1m2/person.
Search room
At least 2.5m x 3m.
Prisoner waiting area
Not less than 1m2 per prisoner, with a minimum area of 12m2. Fixed seating made
from blockwork/
concrete or a steel frame that is bolted down.
At least one toilet and hand basin should be provided. The toilet should have low
walls and a door to
allow some measure of privacy while allowing staff to observe the prisoner.
Prisoner search room
At least 2.5m x 3m.

Visitor waiting area

Not less than 1m2 per visitor, with a minimum area of 12 square meters.
Visitor search room
Not less than 3m x 4m.
Visitor toilets (standard and accessible)
At least one accessible toilet should be provided, plus separate facilities for men
and women.
An area for changing babies should also be included in this area.
Non-contact visits area (closed visit)
Closed visits booths should be equipped with a fixed seat on either side of the
toughened glass/grill. If

[Type text]

Page 6

toughened glass is used to separate the prisoner from the visitor, a robust intercom
system or very fine
mesh will be required for communication purposes.
Conjugal visit area
Rooms should be large enough to accommodate a bed, sink, toilet, and, where
water supplies allow, a
shower. A storage area may be required to keep sheets and towels. Staff who work
in the conjugal visits
area may require an office.
Official visit room(s)
Rooms may be approximately 2.5m by 3m.
Classrooms can range from small rooms for five or six individuals to large rooms for
20 prisoners or more.Natural lighting and ventilation requirements apply and must
be considered.
Height of the room: At least 2.45m, but more may be needed in warmer climates
Ventilation area: At least 4% of the net floor area (IBC)
Where infeasible, must be greater than .1m2/person.
Day lighting area: Total clear glazed window area, at least 8% of the net floor area.
Where infeasible, must be greater than .1m2/person.
Prisoner search room
At least 2.5m x 3m.
Prisoner toilets (standard and accessible)
Number of toilets: 1 toilet per 25 prisoners. (ICRC)
Dimensions of accessible toilets: See figure following F1.06 and F1.07, Visitor toilets.

[Type text]

Page 7

[Type text]

Page 8

[Type text]

Page 9

[Type text]

Page 10

[Type text]

Page 11

[Type text]

Page 12

[Type text]

Page 13

[Type text]

Page 14

[Type text]

Page 15