National Institute of Corrections
You are not signed in! To post comments and participate in discussions you need to sign in or create a free account.
Justice Goes Green
National Jail Exchange

Subscribe (RSS)

By Kenneth Ricci. This article originally appeared in American Jails magazine, July-August 2011. Article provided for download courtesy of the American Jail Association, goes green

This article highlights key information presented in the white paper, Sustainable Justice 2030: Green Guide to Justice, published by the Sustainable Justice Committee of the Academy of Architecture for Justice, American Institute of Architects. The aim of that project was to "articulate a vision for how green justice buildings can serve a green and sustainable justice system as a foundational element of a sustainable society." (Source:, viewed March 1, 2012.) The full Guide can be accessed at

Ricci notes that, "The most sustainable building is the one that never gets built," and says that to be space and energy efficient, "sustainable justice systems must strive to do more with their square footage, using buildings to their maximum potential."

Advances can be made by adopting new information technology and data storage, designing public spaces for alternative dispute resolution and other justice functions, and implementing energy-saving options. More significantly, local justice agencies can focus on alternatives to detention, thereby controlling jail admissions and reducing the size, cost, and environmental impact of newly constructed facilities. The better way to approach a jail construction planning project in the era of sustainability, according to Ricci, is to ask, "How small a system can we operate?" rather than "How many beds do we need?"

Sustainable design can also contribute to a more normalized environment for those who are confined in, or work in, secure settings. Increased use of natural daylight is one example. Ricci illustrates principles in facility planning and operation with several examples from jails around the U.S.

Posted Wed, Mar 7 2012 1:14 PM by Susan Powell
Filed under: ,


Be the first to comment on this article!
You must sign in or create an account to comment.
Brought to you by:
National Institute of Corrections
U.S. Dept. of Justice | 320 First Street | Washington, DC 20534 | 800.995.6423

This blog is funded by a contract from the National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.