Model Prisons, an “unmitigated disaster”?

Despite its failures, the “model prison" persists.

< image © Mélanie Bouteille

“Speakers’ Corner” serie (4)

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.

Grégory Salle is a social science researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a member of the Lille Centre for Sociological and Economic Studies and Research. He authored “Utopies carcérales. Petite histoire des prisons modèles” in 2016. We asked him three questions.

The term utopia implies a desirable place, the complete opposite of a prison.

A current interpretation sees the history of model prisons as one long series of failures, an unmitigated disaster.

So, perhaps we are still in for some surprises.


Grégory Salle, L’utopie carcérale. Petite histoire des “prisons modèles”, Paris, Amsterdam Editions, 2016.