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Design of Juvenile Correctional Facility Essay

Constructing a juvenile correctional facility can longer be considered an easy and straightforward venture. A juvenile facility is built to incarcerate youthful criminals to rehabilitate them. Before 1970, juvenile correctional facilities were constructed using a design that was more than 200 years old. This design followed a linear design that emphasized on security. However, juvenile correctional facilities have changed in terms of design to incorporate flexibility and efficiency as well as additional spaces that cater to the interaction of the juveniles with their staff. Furthermore, modern juvenile correctional facilities emphasize the need for normalcy in a juvenile correction environment. This paper outlines the design of a juvenile correctional facility that prioritizes both the needs of the juveniles housed by the facility as well as the agencies running the facility.

The first factor to be considered when designing a juvenile facility is the purpose of the facility. Most of the time, designs tend to concentrate on the need for security in a juvenile correctional facility. However, it is important to consider the other needs that are to be served by the correctional facility. Although a juvenile facility seeks to isolate offending youths from society, the facility should be accessible to all other stakeholders of juvenile delinquency, including parents, courts, and law enforcement officials. Studies have shown that the success of the juvenile correctional system depends on how a certain facility is accessible to juvenile delinquency stakeholders (Randall & Witke, 2009). When considering the needs of a juvenile facility, it is important to consider the level of isolation that is required. For instance, not all juvenile offenders require complete isolation from society. Some offenders can be rehabilitated within the confines of the society while others pose a risk to the rest of society. Depending on the purpose of the correctional facility, its location can vary.

Nevertheless, the facility needs to be accessible to all other stakeholders of the juvenile justice system. In this case, the juvenile correctional facility will be moderately isolated and secure. Also, it will be easily accessible using the existing road network.

When designing the correctional facility, the issue of safety was also put into consideration. The issue of security in a correctional facility is two way. First, the juveniles contained in the facility need to be safe from any outside threats. Second, the members of the community near the facility need to be protected from any harm that may come from within the facility. Furthermore, the members of staff who are running the correctional facility need to feel safe when they are carrying out their duties. For the facility to achieve all these levels of security, it must accommodate the full-time supervision of the resident juveniles. Therefore, the movements and actions of the juveniles must be monitored around the clock. To accommodate this requirement, the facility’s living spaces will be considerate of the staff present.

Also, most buildings will have an allowance for a supervisor who will have direct visual and physical access to all other activity-houses. The facility’s living quarters will be segmented further to facilitate smaller group activities. However, all the other major accommodation areas will only be in the form of large units that can accommodate the entire group of residents. To enhance security, the facility’s staff will control all residents’ movements. The facility will allow locking of units that are not in use and ensure there is a marked navigation system to ease movement around the facility. The residents should be aware of all entry and exit points, which will be adequately marked. The design also includes a perimeter wall around the building to discourage unauthorized access into the facility. The perimeter wall will also reduce the risk of juveniles escaping from the facility.

It is important for the facility’s design to create a normative environment. To achieve a normative environment, the building’s design will make use of familiar materials and patterns. For example, the dining area will feature familiar wall hangings and paintings. The motivation behind using familiar designs and pattern comes from the notion that familiar and “comfortable surroundings contribute to smooth operations by minimizing negative resident responses such as aggressiveness and posturing for dominance” (Randall & Witke, 2009). Some features of the correctional facility that will aim to promote a normative environment include natural lighting, outside views, decorative patterns, light colors, movable furnishings, sound-absorbing materials, and use of familiar construction materials. All these designing aspects serve as promoters of a normative environment. For example, the movable furnishings give the facility’s residents a sense of control.

Other considerations that were made during the designing of the facility were the facility’s daily programs and activities. The correctional facility accommodates daily routines and activities. Existence of pre-planned activities in the facility reduces instances of disorder and unrest. Furthermore, planned activities help the rehabilitated youth to fit into their respective communities. For instance, the correctional facility will consist of summer gardens and a housing unit for pets. The facility will also include housing units that promote personal hygiene, studying, and recreational games. Moreover, the facility seeks to promote personal pursuits by offering a wide range of extracurricular activities. The youthful energy of the facility’s residents has also been considered by design.

The facility’s design also takes into consideration the staffing considerations. The recommended staffing ratio for juvenile correctional facilities is “one staff member for every eight to twelve juveniles” (Becker, 2008). This staffing ratio allows the staff members of correctional facilities to interact with juvenile offenders comprehensively. The facility’s design takes these issues into consideration and places staff members amid the facility’s residents.

The facility’s design is modeled around all the above considerations. The construction of the facility is expected to take between 12 to 14 months. The final product is determined by the different needs of the courts, users, and administrative units. The cost of building this structure will be agreed upon by the project’s stakeholders. The design of the facility was not centralized on cost considerations but efficiency. However, statistics indicate that the cost of putting up a moderately secure juvenile correctional facility was an average of $200 and $240 per square feet in 2011 (Butts & Adams, 2011). Once it is completed, the juvenile correctional facility is expected to house a maximum of 2000 residents. Overall, the facility’s design will include an administration block, staff lockers, a break area, an admissions office, a visitation area, educational premises, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, a worshiping area, a dining area, a medical center, and a laundry area. The success of this facility’s design depends on those who will implement it.


Becker, M. K. (2008). Washington State’s New Juvenile Code: An Introduction. Gonz. L. Rev, 14(2), 289.

Butts, J. A., & Adams, W. (2011). Anticipating space needs in juvenile detention and correctional facilities. New York, NY: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Randall, I., & Witke, L. (2009). ADA: Proposed final regulations for courthouses, jails and prisons. Corrections Today, 62(2), 126-131.

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