Daring to be different? Creating a new, large, rehabilitative prison

Kate Gooch1
1University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom,

In February 2017 HMP Berwyn became the first prison to open with the aim of becoming a ‘rehabilitation prison’. Situated in North Wales, it is the largest prison in the UK, with capacity to accommodate 2,106 men. In ‘daring to be different’, every element of opening and operation has been evaluated in light of the strategic aim of becoming a rehabilitative prison, underpinned by the ‘principle of normality’ (‘Mandela Rules’, United Nations, 2015) and an emphasis on ‘making big feel small’. The rehabilitative vision goes beyond a desire to offer appropriate programmes and interventions to consider: innovations in staff recruitment and training, modifications to the prison’s aesthetic appearance, strategic operational delivery, organisational linguistics, operational decision making, social relationships, family and community engagement and partnership work. Yet, while the importance of rehabilitation is inarguable, the idea of a ‘rehabilitative prison’ is highly contested. This paper draws on a unique empirical study of Berwyn to consider the challenges, opportunities and complexities in designing, building, opening and operating a new, large and rehabilitative prison.


Dr Kate Gooch is a Lecturer in the University of Leicester Law School specialising in prisons and imprisonment. Building on her doctoral research on young people in penal custody, she has continued to undertake ethnographic research in prisons, focusing on issues including violence and organised crime in prisons, physical restraint, self-harm, self-inflicted deaths in custody and aspects of the legal process concerning children, such as the interrogation and detention of child suspects. Most recently, she has been researching the planning processes and opening of a new large and rehabilitative prison in England & Wales, producing a series of thematic reports for policy and practice as well as several academic publications

Briefing prison design in a risk-averse environment

Mr Kavan Applegate1
1University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom,

The pursuit of rehabilitation in a corrections environment poses numerous challenges and, for the architect, many competing requirements must be balanced as the design of a prison goes from a blank sheet of paper to a fully-fledged and signed-off prison design. But within operational requirements, security assessments, environmental analyses, engineering coordination, and fit-for-purpose legalese comes a risk-averse mentality that for correctional designers requires the management of reward against risk. Often, the aspirational briefing for rehabilitation may be tainted or subverted through compressed timeframes, fears around contractual defaults and risk-avoidance strategies, especially in the Public Private Partnership delivery model. So, how might we change the briefing process and assign the risk to the most appropriate party? Or should we simply decide that rehabilitative design is so important that a particular risk is worth taking?


Kavan Applegate, Director of Guymer Bailey Architects, has been working on secure facility architecture for at least 20 years. Joining Guymer Bailey Architects’ Brisbane studio in 1995, he moved south and started the Melbourne studio in 2000, and has led the briefing, design, documentation, and delivery of dozens of secure buildings and entire facilities throughout Australia. Jointly leading a team of 50 architects and landscape architects, Kavan is passionate about the rehabilitative effects of architecture and the importance of creating normalised secure environments.

The moral ambiguities at the heart of progressive prison design

Prof. Yvonne Jewkes1,2
1University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom,  2University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Discourses of transformation, normalisation, trauma sensitivity and rehabilitation have recently come to the fore in the briefs given to prison architects. Drawing on recent collaborations with several prison services, this paper will explore the moral ambiguities that lie at the heart of these seemingly unquestionable and desirable goals. It will discuss whether prisons can be designed with an explicit mission to rehabilitate offenders and whether they can succeed in this goal even when rehabilitation is not an underpinning philosophy in their planning and design.  It will also consider the seemingly intractable contradiction in trying to achieve rehabilitation in ‘corrections’ and will contemplate where the limits of the rehabilitation mission lie in prison planning and design.


Yvonne Jewkes is Professor of Criminology at the University of Bath and Honorary Visiting Professor in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. She has conducted several funded studies of prison architecture, design and technology in the UK and Europe. She has also undertaken research and consultancy in prisons in Australia and New Zealand.  Other, related interests include ‘green prisons’, computer technologies in prisons, and the ethics of prison architecture. Yvonne has published numerous books and articles on various aspects of imprisonment and is a series editor of Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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