Humanizing Prison Architecture

  • Type

    Information Design, Print, UI/UX, Motion, Illustration

  • Tools

    Illustrator, Sketch, Flinto

  • Duration

    Sep 2016 — Dec 2016

A printed pamphlet and interactive tablet piece that explore the relationship between recidivism and prison architecture through a comparison of American and Norwegian prisons.

Overcrowding in American Prisons

Overcrowding in American prisons has become a prominent issue that has consequentially developed from America’s high incarceration and recidivism rates. However current solutions being implemented to address these problems are ultimately unsustainable as they involve either building more prisons or adding more inmates to already overcapacitated prisons.

Norway as a Model

I started to research into other prison models and discovered that Nordic prisons, in general, share similar statistics and values as the Norwegian prisons. Nordic prisons have been such a success that they have reached the point where the lack of inmates has caused prisons to close down. Rather than creating my own prison model or a new system based off the Norwegian model, I chose a real life success model to convince prison administrators that the Norwegian system could act as a plausible solution.

Forming the Narrative Through a Print & Interactive Piece

In order to advocate to administration divisions in American prisons, I chose a printed pamphlet and tablet piece to convey the information. The print piece gives users to view a quick overview of the information, whereas the tablet piece allows users to go through the information more in-depth. Both pieces follow a similar format, telling the story in a narrative broken into four parts:

1. Introduction: Brief overview on how architectural design choices may influence inmates' behaviours following their release.

2. Opening: Highlights the overcrowding and recidivism problem in America.

3. Comparison: Presents the Norwegian prison model as the solution to rebase the American model on through a comparison of prison statistics.

4. Solution: Shows the differences between American and Norwegian prison design while showcasing the amount and type of influence design elements have on recidivism and rehabilitation.

The Pamphlet

The covers present side by side comparisons of American and Norwegian cells using symbols and colours to indicate the design factors that contribute to recidivism, on the American side, and the factors that contribute to rehabilitation, on the Norwegian side.

The next spread shows the prison population size in each state in relation to the different types of prison capacities each state’s institutions were designed to contain.

When the pamphlet is further opened up, American and Norwegian statistics can be compared directly side-by-side. The section outlines the prison models and how it has affected each country’s prison population rate, expenditures, and 5-year recidivism rate.

The final spread expands on the covers by highlighting the structures and factors contributing to recidivism (on the American side) and rehabilitation (on the Norwegian side) which are expanded in the text-boxes.

The Tablet

Moving from print to digital allowed me to expand on the information that wasn’t able to fit solely on the pamphlet. It also allows the user to compare and contrast data in multiple ways. Many touch gestures and animations were integrated to guide the user through the narrative in an easy and intuitive way.

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Typeset with love in: Chap, Silk Serif, IBM Plex Sans.