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What Jail Can't Do

Frank Greene and Kenneth Ricci discuss the changing paradigms of half a century of justice architecture and what we should ask — and expect — from courts and jails.
December 12, 2017, 2pm PST | UrbanOmnibus
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Metropolitan Detention Center
The Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal prison in Downtown Los Angeles, viewed alongside other civic buildings and the 101 Freeway.

Like hospitals, stadia, and shopping malls, the structures of the criminal justice system demand complex spatial considerations, and architects specialized in meeting them. But with individual lives and liberties in the balance, buildings like courts and jails inspire ethical questions and social consequences beyond the scope of other public structures. Frank Greene and Kenneth Ricci, principals of New York based RicciGreene Associates, provide architectural and planning services for courts, jails, and juvenile detention facilities in the region and across the nation. Over five decades in the practice of justice architecture, they have witnessed a succession of approaches to corrections and detention, from rehabilitation to punitive mass incarceration, and back to rehabilitation. While some of today’s best practices are nothing new, signs of growing support for smaller-scale, local, and more humane approaches to incarceration today are encouraging. Below, Greene and Ricci talk about the roles courts and jails play — and should play — in the criminal justice system and in how cities and counties address pressing social problems.  And they outline their role as justice architects, not only in designing environments to cue desired behavior, but using planning tools to change the minds and actions of clients who want to build more and bigger jails.

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Published on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 in Urban Omnibus
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