Controversy Heats Up Over Shipping Container Prison Cells in Australia

by , 05/09/11

Shipping container architecture, , upcyled shipping container, eco design, green architecture, eco prison cell, sustainable prisons,

In a move that could be viewed by some as a regression to the late 1800s when convicts were shipped from England to Van Diemens Land (Australia), a local prison will next week begin a trial housing inmates within shipping containers converted into maximum security cells.  Taking just six months to build instead of the standard two years, each upcycled shipping container costs approximately AUD$70,000  representing a savings of almost $400,000. Political proponents espouse their virtues claiming they are safe, secure and cheap. Conversely, civil libertarians are not so enthusiastic, stating they are inhumane or not secure enough.  What are your thoughts? Is shipping container architecture appropriate for prisoners?

Via the AdelaideNow

Image © Chris Mangan

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  1. nonny May 23, 2011 at 3:06 am

    It’s a prison. Don’t do shit that will land you there. Obviously, they aren’t going to stick inmates in ovens; its more questionable whether or not they’ll turn on the a/c in the a/c equipped cell. And how much more secure do you want these maximum prisons to be? Just minimize openings in the steel. Or rather, just shoot them; then you won’t have to worry about the security of a steel shipping container.
    And how comfortable do you want these maximum-security prisoners? Why don’t we just give them a tv and a couch, and some fried chicken to go with their luxury bed then? That’ll end the whining about inhumanity.

    Really, the majority of the people who bitch about inhumanity do so from the comfort and safety of their privileged homes. And those that worry about security, well….. that really does depend on the rest of the prison now doesn’t it?

  2. conatinerhomeinfo May 11, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I am always the one that questions the facts on stories like this : )

    I have done as much as anyone in the world to promote the use of container based construction and consider myself their biggest fan but $400,000 for regular construction versus $70,000 for container based prison cell solution makes no sense. There is no way this is a like for like comparison.

    Its the same hype that says your going to save 70% of the cost of a new home with container based construction – not true – the real cost of construction is not in the 4 x 1.6mm fully corrugated steel walls and roof its the “fit out” and fixings and finishing.

    The benefits to container based cells should be potentially reconfigurable and relocatable solutions not over hyped cost savings like this.


  3. lazyreader May 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I’m only kidding. Still my concern is the resistance to tampering these cells have. What precautions have been taken to ensure the inmates attempts at escape by vandalizing their cells. In previous prisons, inmates broke off shards of porcelain from broken fixtures as weapons.

  4. ahinalu May 10, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I can’t help but notice the correlation between hard labor in prison disappearing and the increase of repeat offenders. Maybe prisons need to be more like Cool hand Luke and less like Let’s go to prison.

  5. nigmarc May 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    The picture clearly shows split system air conditioners on the side of the units, so these are not easybake ovens as lazyreader notes above.

    Fantastic idea IMO.

  6. caeman May 10, 2011 at 8:31 am

    This would all be so much easier if people didn’t have a problem with penal colonies. Oceans make for a better prison wall than stone.

  7. poland.jr May 10, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Seems to me the 330,000 savings per unit could well serve early childhood programs and interventions that could eventually reduce the need for more prison cells.

  8. caeman May 10, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Harmless drug dealer? Have one sell your kid some crack and see how harmless you thing they are.

  9. lazyreader May 10, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Private prisons have no incentive to rehabilitate inmates only in incarcerating them. You don’t make money treating people to do no crime ever again, when your business model relies on storing people with pathological criminal behavior. And attacking the main causes of crime is a windfall for the private prison industry. Most of the people in prison in America are harmless drug dealers / users. It costs 20,000 dollars a year to keep a pothead in prison. It doesn’t cost a dime to leave the loser stoned on his couch.

  10. lazyreader May 10, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Yes, they are criminals, still putting them in easy bake ovens is cruel and unusual. Second whats to stop innovative inmates from trying to tamper or hack at their confinement. A new prison designed in Maryland, USA features an array of techniques to prevent this. The cells holding prisoners are all made of single pour reinforced concrete layed over with an acid resistant paint.

  11. ahinalu May 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    As long as the temperature is healthy and they’re giving them food
    sounds what does it matter if the walls are corrugated steal or concrete? It’s prison.

  12. caeman May 9, 2011 at 11:26 am

    They are criminals. Part of prison should be punishment.

  13. tecrekka May 9, 2011 at 10:55 am

    While I am not directly familiar with the system in Australia, being from the US my opinion is this; if it works, and is secure, then it is a great integration into the decrease in cost to house inmates. Conversely, if this is a privately owned prison system, as some are becoming in the US, then it can be viewed as more a a bottom line profit increase to an institution who’s primary goal is to imprison more people and therefore turn more profits. On the most basic level, without reading into the possibilities of underlying aspects of this particular case, I feel it’s an undeliably good idea.

  14. Emmo709 May 9, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I was working near Adelaide last year and saw quite a few temporary accommodations site like this. If it’s good enough for the mine workers of Rocksby Downs then it’s good enough for criminals. As far as security, then that comes down to procedures within the prison, and having a secure and defined perimeter.

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