Preventing disease through justice design
Public health emergencies are a serious issue when it comes to any community. Outbreaks can spur officials to close schools, cancel events, or restrict visitation to specific individuals. Jails and prisons are facilities that include close quarters and groups of people where contact may differ to entering the facility. The design factors take in greatly due to the idea that these facilities may hold people temporary or for prolonged periods of time. It’s important to look at not only how a structure is designed but how viruses may be deterred or contained.
Containment and prevention in the transmission of diseases are important to target early on. Jails and prisons collect essential data with regards to inmate history in hopes to zero in on how these individuals might possess a dangerous illness. For a respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 (coronavirus), the virus can be contracted through contact, droplets, or fomites — something where crowded spaces could deem threatening to not only inmates but to staff as well.
Inmate history can only provide us so much, but it’s up to facilities to maintain environments that are capable of being inhabited. Jail and prisons are adjusting day-by-day to ensure quality meets where quantities occupy. Engineering a space that is entrusting to house individuals can be overwhelming, but insightful design can create efficiencies.
As staff members work around the clock inside these facilities, having adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and functional spaces can keep environments under control. The spread of diseases can combat correctional operations and make for impulsive changes at any time. Staff members of these facilities should be cognizant of not only of shifted behaviors in inmates but as well as peers.
As the Elevatus team works through designing spaces, we think intentionally. For jails and prisons, there’s a lot of insight and research that goes through when it comes to surfaces and how they can fight off microbes on surfaces. Isolating inmates from one another can be a costly, yet proactive measure to take during outbreaks. It can also reduce the vulnerability that might be faced if there’s airborne contact of harmful contraband substances being brought into a facility. From intake, to booking, to holding, to housing, it’s integral to sustainably implement organizational design that prevents outbreaks.