Interview

“Hearing the sounds of the city”

Are large prisons a disaster?

< image © Mélanie Bouteille

“Speakers’ Corner” Series (2)

Residents and citizens feel differently about a prison in the city centre to one pushed to the outskirts, be it an old or a newly built prison. Its location, accessibility, the region it covers and its links with its social and economic surroundings have a decisive impact on the conditions of detention inside.

Hidden prison, modern prison, dilapidated prison, “open” prison: wall to wall, Prison Insider investigated the links between city and prison. In partnership with Rescaled, we gave a number of different people a space to share their point of view.


Olivier Milhaud is a geographer. He is the author of the 2017 work Separate and Punish (Séparer et punir), in which he investigates the spatial punishment inherent in unconditional prison sentences. He lays out an analysis of the role played by the architecture of custodial settings. He describes the obsession with separation that aims to divide the inside from the outside and to separate prisoners from one another, even within the prison itself. Prison Insider asked him three questions.

A prison in the city centre is a reminder in the heart of the city that some individuals live in imprisonment on our behalf

Most people do not even know the precise location of the prison closest to their home

The only means of definitively stopping this pursuit of enormity is to opt for smaller prisons

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