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A Prison is the aim of the game and where the premise of Prison Architect is set. Your goal is to create and manage your own prison system in the way you want it. Using the facilities provided to you the only restriction is your mind.

Build a sprawling mini-retreat for minimum security prisoners with lush cells, TVs and forests or the bare bones legal minimum with a bed, toilet and nothing but your own company. The player is not restricted and can also purchase additional land sets through game unlocks to increase their land size.

You will currently start the game (in Sandbox Mode at least) with a plot of land (size customisable upon creating a new Prison), a Deliveries zone, a Garbage area and 8 workmen.


A prison is comprised of:

Basic prison

For a very simple prison to work for a while, the following rooms, utilities and employees are needed:

Highly recommended:

Most other rooms and staff will eventually be needed or helpful, too, but are not that important to get your prison running.

Game World Attributes

Country Neutral

The developers of Prison Architect persist on the fact that the prison you are building is not located in any specific country. It does therefore not regard any specific laws and jurisdiction, nor is the currency used (though called $) of any specific value.


With the concept of decay, floors get muddy, shower cubicles get dirty, pathways become overgrown, grass and landscaped areas become untidy and wall become overgrown.


Game time is displayed in the upper right corner of the screen and affects all parts of the game - at night it's dark and prisoners are sleeping, at 8 am the visitors arrive, at 1 pm you may schedule lunch, and whoever you will put in six hours of solitary confinement then will be released from it at 7 pm. 24 hours make a day, as displayed in the day counter in the upper info bar of the screen, and so far, everything seems to be pretty straightforward. However, an inmate sentenced to one year in prison will be released after five days at the latest, as one game year consists of five game days only. Must be that strange perception of time you are developing when locked behind bars for too long...


  • If you need more time to build before your first prisoners arrive, intake can be turned off in the "Prisoners" tab of the reports menu.
  • Every prison needs a Warden - he should be one of your first hires. Build him a nice office and he'll open up a whole range of advanced facilities via the bureaucracy system.
  • When designing your prison, consider the natural flow, you want to keep prisoners far away from the front exits. Fences are inexpensive, be sure to use them!
  • Individual jail cells are expensive, especially early on when funds are very tight. Save money by starting with a large Holding Cell instead, which can be shared between many prisoners at once.
  • Get your Kitchen and Canteen up and running before the first prisoners show up, and be sure to hire some Cooks - nothing irritates a prisoner more than an empty stomach!
  • Place your Kitchen and Canteen in close proximity to one another to ensure ease of access for your cooks (and remember, the Cooks will collect ingredients from the delivery area, so it's best to have the Kitchen as near to this as is practical).
  • There are three kinds of prison doors: The jail door, which only opens for a guard, the normal doors, which everyone can use and the staff doors. Make sure you build at least staff doors where your prisoners shouldn't be.
    • Also, you can mark areas as "staff only" in Deployment for wide-scale control.
  • Make sure that your prisoners don't have access to the outer edge of the map. Inmates will make a run for it if they have a chance.
    • A good way to deal with this is to surround your prison with Fence or any sort of walling.
  • Prisoners will start to dig their way out. Try keeping your cell blocks away from your outer perimeter.
  • Prisoners will utilize contraband to ignite fires. It may be worthwhile to install sprinklers to avoid costly repairs from a Fire.


  • Alpha 9 introduced the concept of decay