Mass Incarceration

As Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky noted, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” How might Dostoevsky have judged a country where 2.2 million people are currently in prison or jail? Though the United States represents only five percent of the global population, its prison population constitutes more than one quarter of all those imprisoned worldwide. For many, this crisis of mass incarceration goes unnoticed because prisons and jails are pushed to the spatial, social, and educational margins.  But penal institutions are central places in daily life for millions of Americans. How have the fields of architecture and planning responded to and shaped the place of penal institutions in the urban fabric?  How can the field of urban planning contribute to the reintegration of the nearly 700,000 individuals who are released from prisons and jails annually?