Worldwide Perspectives on Justice
At the recent International Corrections and Prison Association (ICPA) annual meeting in London, I was reminded of the dual and sometimes opposing tasks of protecting the public while rehabilitating offenders. This year’s conference theme, Innovation in Rehabilitation: Building Better Futures, brought a lot of ideas around bridging that dichotomy to light.
Over the past several years, the European philosophies of using more normative environments and access to programs have led the way to innovative solutions now showcased in the US. This included our own Campus Kilpatrick presentation with Los Angeles County in the latest “Culture of Care” model for juvenile rehabilitation, as well as other juvenile facilities from Baltimore, and Ontario, Canada. These facilities incorporate many of the recognized best practices for juveniles such as smaller units, colorful interiors, views to the outdoors, and abundant access to educational and recreational programs, among others.
DLR Group Justice Design Leader Andrew Cupples, AIA, leading a presentation on the Culture of Care at ICPA in London.
Many of the same problems we experience in the justice system in the United States cross international lines as well. Speaking to jail wardens from Belgium, the primary concern there is severe overcrowding in their remand facilities at levels close to double the design capacity. In a truly innovative approach to this problem, their offenders “take turns” staying in the remand facility—one week in, followed by one week out of, the facility. Like many of these responses to challenges, we have yet to see statistics about how it may have a positive or negative impact on inmates as well as staff.
It was also interesting to see how mainly European nations implement technology both in their programs and security systems. Several companies showcased their systems for delivering education, account management, healthcare, and personal communications for offenders. Most of these solutions work by issuing each offender a personal tablet to access all of these services. On the security side of things, new systems use sound analytics to detect disturbances within a unit based on increases in voice volumes, which then initiate an alarm for staff to tend to the situation quickly before it escalates.
Many of these solutions and discussions to improve the future were featured in a documentary released during the conference entitled “Prisons: The Last Resort.” Regardless of challenges, solutions, and technology, collaboration between nations undoubtedly has the potential to deliver better solutions at a faster rate to build a better future for all.
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