I've always been intrigued by the philosophy of Architects/ Designers/ Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR)'s boycott of prison design, but have wondered if refusal to be part of the design is the best way to make change. Of course, there is little flexibility in most prison contracts so in most cases the only choice the designer has is whether to participate.
This juvenile detention center, located in the Netherlands, shows another option. It certainly is an improvement on US prison facilities, though I wish it had more details about how the facility functions, both spacial and as detention center. Designed as "an expression of temporality - like the stay of the offenders themselves - the design assumes a respectful relationship with the detainees, the visitors and its environment. A dialogue between containment and freedom, expressed in the porous boundaries between indoors and out, aims to prepare the youth for their transition back into society, while also communicating a sense of trust."
Design is only a small part of the changes that need to be made, but to me these images show what a difference purposeful design can make.
Images and quote from Designboom. ADPSR website.