People with mental health issues are vastly overrepresented in the Australian prison system. This paper discusses the master planning and design of Ravenhall Correctional Centre in Victoria, Australia to increase outcomes for male prisoners living with physical, mental health disability and other conditions. Major innovations in the design of Ravenhall Correctional Centre have included a forensic mental health unit on site, and the master planning of the prison into separate communities with a variety of housing types to provide prisoners opportunities to experience various levels of self-care and greater autonomy. The prison was designed to increase feelings of wellness, to provide program and training spaces to service various groups, and to allow prisoners to experience greater levels of individual control. The project is discussed through an architectural lens to allow readers to understand the complexities of master planning and designing a major people-oriented, multi-faceted prison with a forensic mental health unit within the perimeter. The paper notes that large scale prisons may be designed in a more therapeutic manner where accommodation, facilities and programs can provide prisoners opportunities to connect with external environments, engage in meaningful activities and retain a level of autonomy and individual control. The integration of the forensic mental health unit means that greater numbers of prisoners are able to access in and outpatient services. The paper concludes that since the prison was commissioned in 2017, the prisoner cohort has changed, resulting in a deviation from the intended purpose of focusing on innovative programs for sentenced prisoners. This may have diminished the capacity for prisoners to effectively engage in the programs for which the prison was designed.
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|Published - 1 May 2020