Photos: Glen Santayana
In the United States 67 per cent of inmates released from prison are re-incarcerated after only three years. It’s a serious problem. But how do you keep inmates from re-offending? Harvard Graduate School of Design student Glen Santayana says you give them an education.
For his thesis, Santayana designed what he calls “PriSchool,” a combination prison/school that would be integrated into a community to help integrate its inmates back into society.
“The prison would be a prison for non-violent drug offenders,” Santayana explains on his website. “The school would be a school of criminology and criminal justice, and it will have a variety of traditional and non-traditional learning environments in which the inmate-student interaction is facilitated and encouraged.”
Santayana’s design calls for four separate buildings: the school of criminology, the prison itself, a pre-release building and a community center. The setting for the proposed facility is a Brooklyn neighborhood comprised of “million dollar blocks” — city blocks where the crime rate is so high the state is having to spend over a million dollars a year to imprison its residents.
In conversation with Fast Company, Santayana explains why he chose the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville:
“I wanted to locate my project in the heart of where most of the inmates are coming from to continue and strengthen family ties, so that when they are released, they can return home with a better chance of re-assimilation,” Santayana says.
While PriSchool is only a conceptual design, it would surely receive support from high-profile members of the architecture community. As Arch Daily explains:
Raphael Sperry, founder of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, who has been campaigning to have the [American Institute of Architects] forbid members from designing execution chambers or solitary confinement units. At the other end of the scale, Deanna VanBuren, a principle of FOURM Design Studio and a member of ADPSR herself, has championed ‘restorative justice’, an approach to the justice system which emphasizes rehabilitation and reconciliation in order to prevent people from re-offending.
More renderings of the design, as well as a link to Santayana’s research book can be found below.
Click here to read the PriSchool research book online.