|Thursday, June 25|
There are significant changes in the treatment of youth who have gotten into trouble with the law, previously managed primarily with incarceration. These changes are in response to three ideas: 1) the realization that treating underlying causes of youth problems, such as mental illness and addiction may be more effective than incarceration in addressing troubled youth, 2) the awareness that many youths get into trouble in response to traumatizing treatment at home or in their community, and 3) the decarceration movement that advocates the elimination of incarceration altogether, arguing that traditional punitive detention facilities are ineffective and damaging. This symposium presents research and design that advance trauma-informed treatment and decarceration in different countries, with the objective of providing information about the new approaches to youth rehabilitation that link research to design implementation. For design to be used to prevent youth incarceration, or support therapeutic and rehabilitative treatment, research on existing environments, and proposals for opportunistic design need to explore why, where, how, design can be effective, and what should be designed. Also, a variety of approaches to the study and design of settings for youth rehabilitation must be developed, including participatory design techniques and evidence-based design, as well as behavioral design approach to youth treatment.
* Julia W. Robinson, University of Minnesota, United States
Designing Therapeutic Centers for Youth
* Robert Boraks, Parkin Architects Limited, Carleton University Ottawa, Canada
Canadian criminal incarceration rates are remarkable in that they have remained relatively consistent over the last four decades, hovering at about 115 inmates per 100,000 for those of adult age. Significantly, and until the year 2002, the incarceration rate for Canadian youth aged between 12 and 19 were significantly higher than their adult counterparts, averaging nearly 200 per 100,000 of their cohort. Lacking diversion strategies, youth were sent to “closed custody” institutions that reflected conditions inconsistent with normative Canadian values. Currently, the rate of incarceration for Canadian youth is averaging at 50 per 100,000, while adult rates remain unchanged. Of today’s sentenced youth, 93% are placed in “open custody”, which allows convicted youth to resume their daily routines, but must return to supervised nightly confinement. Only 7% of incarcerated youth are required to be housed in closed custody. The average length of stay within closed custody institutions is less than 3 months. Since 2002 there has been a significant decrease in youth crime. Current operational and design models for youth detention are very much different from the norm of twenty years ago. Contemporary designs recognize that normalization, access to natural elements, choice and empowerment produce effective, humane and dignified environments for the incarcerated and for the staff – many of whom work in these institutions for the duration of their employed years. The presentation and paper will review the conditions that led to this notable evolution, and how the changes were made conceptually and operationally evident. The main body of the presentation will review changes to the physical environment of Canadian incarceration in general, with a specific focus on youth detention facilities. The design of many of the highlighted examples were led by the author.
Designing for Accountability: Decarceration through Restorative Justice-Informed Design
* Barb Toews, University of Washington Tacoma, United States
For centuries, criminal justice reform efforts have influenced the design of justice architecture. The current popularity of restorative justice suggests a new era of facility design may be upon us. Restorative justice is a theoretical approach to criminal justice that seeks to repair the harm caused by crime and embraces values of respect, care, and transformation for all. This approach, used widely with young offenders, calls forth a shift in the design of justice buildings, including those dedicated to working with youth who offend. A restorative justice-informed design prioritizes outcomes of accountability and reparations, versus punishment and even rehabilitation. Such design communicates restorative values and facilitates experiences of respect and care for building users. This type of design also intentionally creates space for restorative justice practices – e.g., flexible space for dialogue of various sizes. The promise of restorative justice, however, cannot be realized with just the renovation of an existing facility as these environmental changes remain supported by a punitive foundation. A new foundation is necessary in order to build, from scratch, a justice infrastructure that seeks to achieve restorative justice goals. This new foundation shifts our attention away from detention and correctional facilities and toward spaces that address issues of concern for youth (e.g., trauma and adverse childhood events) and support the work of social institutions dedicated to youth (e.g., education and health). A comprehensive restorative justice infrastructure would provide space for the creation and support of just and equitable social structures, with a goal of ending youth detention and incarceration. This presentation will discuss an emerging typology for restorative justice-informed design and synthesize empirical findings related to these design characteristics. The presenter will also discuss the implications of restorative justice-informed design for juvenile detention and in support of infrastructures that advocate for youth decarceration.
The role of design and place in transitioning youth justice in Australia
* Rohan Lulham, University Of Technology Sydney, Australia
Kevin Bradley, University Of Technology Sydney, Australia
Around the world there are isolated examples of youth justice systems that have transformed into services that we know provide better outcomes for young people and their communities. These jurisdictions seek to keep young people away from their system, treat them differently to adults, privilege relationships, partner with education, collaborate with family and community and specialise in trauma and complexity. Secure facilities are the last resort, typically small and community based (Ward, 2019). However, while administrators and advocates in many other systems agree with the evidence, emulating the approach and creating the necessary change is complex, hard and multifaceted. In this presentation we reflect on research, practice and theory from our work in this area to situate the role that place and design may have in supporting other jurisdictions to make this change. We draw on research on design and affect in youth justice to understand the potential role of place and propose an initial model for change building on transition design (Irwin, 2015).
Juvenile Rehabilitation: Design Studio Research
* Julia Williams Robinson, University of Minnesota, United States
* Daniel Treinen, University of Minnesota BWBR Architects, United States
Angela L. Cousins, Hennepin County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation , United States
An architectural design studio on juvenile incarceration explored options to existing treatment as the site of cooperative research. The county, an architectural firm and the university sought non-punitive, therapeutic designs that employed a community-based, public health approach. Design studio research not only explores problems, but also develops ways to address them. Students, unfamiliar with the rules, regulations and norms of traditional facility design, question taken-for granted assumptions. Using site visits, presentations by experts, and substantial readings, students identified issues affecting adjudicated juveniles and other at-risk youth (e.g. mental illness, trauma-based care, addiction, character of incarceration facilities, lack of after-school activities, need for family support, and dearth of affordable child care). In the first studio, site visits to the county youth detention center and to a high-end adolescent addiction treatment center revealed that the county facility housed entirely Youth of Color, while the addiction center served 95% Caucasian youth. One group, largely economically disadvantaged, was treated as criminal, and the other group was considered to have a medically treatable behavioral health problem. With incarceration thus revealed as form of racism for those who are under-resourced, students explored ways both to treat at-risk youth, and to prevent youth from getting into trouble. Student designs included teen centers, community centers, mental health facilities and small treatment-oriented group homes. In fall of 2019, the second studio engaged in the project again, this time with community members. The student designs addressed the residents’ concerns about their neighborhood, a loss of identity and community, as well as prevention of juvenile incarceration through provision of services for high school and post high school youth and their families. Both years, the students’ facility designs demonstrated to the county how youth incarceration could be reduced, or possibly prevented, by providing a variety of community-based preventative and rehabilitative facilities.
At Home in Nature: Designing Prison Gardens and Playscapes for Children and their Mothers
* Julie Stevens, Iowa State University, United States
Amy Wagenfeld, Boston University, United States
Barb Toews, University of Washington Tacoma, United States
Approximately 2.7 million children in the US are experiencing the effects of parental incarceration. The immediate and lasting impacts on these children include psychological and behavioral problems, feelings of abandonment, broken attachment, economic hardship, and academic difficulties. One way to minimize these devasting and long-term effects is through rebuilding, strengthening, and maintaining secure parent-child attachment relationships. Creating a visiting space within the correctional facility to nurture this critical relationship is necessary. Prison visiting spaces tend to be cold and institutional, compounded with strict regulations allowing little to no physical contact. Many caregivers opt out of bringing children to prison visits out of concern that it may be more detrimental than beneficial. The garden is based on evidence that access to nature promotes positive psychological and physical health benefits and provides positive natural distractions. Created by a team of incarcerated women and design students, the garden, located within a women’s prison includes spaces for nurturing parent-child relationships through conversation, shared experiences, and play. This presentation highlights the design process and the garden design itself. We also discuss results of the mixed-method study conducted after the garden opened, which explored the experiences of incarcerated women and their visitors through which, ninety-eight percent of garden visitors indicated the garden improved their visits and identified the following as related to that impact: more child-friendly environment, improved affective experience, home-like visiting environment, and more and better parent-child interaction.
* Julia W. Robinson, University of Minnesota, United States