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Prison Alternatives Initiative

Designing Prisons or Designing Something Better?

Originally launched in 2004 as the Prison Design Boycott, ADPSR's Prison Alternatives Initiative calls on architects, other design professionals, and the public to support community-based alternatives to incarceration and to refuse to design prisons. As of 2012, ADPSR's efforts on prisons have been aimed more specifically at stopping the human rights abuses of the design of spaces for execution and prolonged solitary confinement, especially by working with the American Institute of Architects. ADPSR has not changed our position on the need for alternatives to incarceration, but we recognize that some architects may agree with regard to stopping human rights abuse without accepting ADPSR's broader conclusions about the design of more typical prisons. With this disclaimer, we continue to present our position on prison design.


To view the entire Prison Alternatives Campaign, click here


It is time to stop building prisons
Our prison system is both a devastating moral blight on our society and an overwhelming economic burden on our tax dollars, taking away much needed resources from schools, health care and affordable housing. The prison system is corrupting our society and making us more threatened, rather than protecting us as its proponents claim. It is a system built on fear, racism, and the exploitation of poverty. Our current prison system has no place in a society that aspires to liberty, justice, and equality for all.
      As architects, we are responsible for one of the most expensive parts of the prison system, the construction of new prison buildings. Almost all of us would rather be using our professional skills to design positive social institutions such as universities or playgrounds, but these institutions lack funding because of spending on prisons. If we would rather design schools and community centers, we must stop building prisons.
     Please join members of Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) in pledging to not participate in the design, construction, or renovation of prisons. We also invite you to learn more about the prison system, to join us in envisioning more just and productive alternatives to incarceration, and to work towards a society that treats all its members with dignity, equality, and justice.

"I believe that too many people are being incarcerated and that our society must immediately develop and implement alternatives to incarceration. I believe in creating a society with real security and social justice for all, and I will not contribute my design to the perpetuation of wrongful institutions that abuse others. In recognition of the deep injustice of the present prison system, I pledge not to do any work that furthers the construction of prisons or jails."