Prison Architect Wiki

Cells are small rooms where prisoners live through-out their stay in detention. They are a fundamental necessity for any prison or detention center.


As aforementioned, cells are where your prisoners will live whilst serving out their sentence. There are two forms of prison living:

New arrivals to your prison will remain shackled in your reception/delivery area until a cell becomes free or a new one is built.

Building Strategy

As prisons tend to have vast amounts of prisoners, it is wise to create small sized cells. This is so that you can accommodate a higher population of inmates without the cells taking up too much land space. Small-sized cells can then be built in rows to create cell blocks. This can take lots of your funds, so its better to start with some grants first.

As useful as dormitories and holding cells are, it is more sensible to invest in the creation of single cells instead. Prisoners living with other prisoners will have high privacy needs. If left untreated for too long, your prisoners may revolt.



Cells can also serve as places of punishment for your inmates. If a prisoner is placed in lockdown, they will be forced to spend and extended amount of time locked in their cell - isolated from the general population and unable to follow the prison regime. Lawyer Can research the means to issue Permanent Lockdown for your most dangerous prisoners. This serves to:

  • (+) - improve the punishment grading of the prisoner, reducing their re-offending chance.
  • (-) - cause the prisoner to become disgruntled & agitated due to the prolonged wait in their cell.


Cells can be controlled by gangs. See main article on Gangs for more information.

Room Quality & Grading

Interestingly enough, a cell can also serve as a form of reward for prisoners who are well-behaved. A prisoner who has gone a certain number of days without an incident may be entitled to an upgraded, lavishly furnished room. For example, a prisoner who has kept out of trouble for six days will be more entitled to be moved to a better cell than a prisoner who starts fights on a daily basis.

The quality of a cell is dependent on how furnished it is. A cell's quality, or grading, can be improved by adding objects such as: TVs, pool tables, desks, extra chairs or windows. Cells are graded on a scale from 1-10, and 0 - 15 if Cleared for Transfer DLC is enabled.

(With Cleared for Transfer,) Cell ranks are as follows:

  • Very Low: 0 - 2
  • Low: 3 - 5
  • Average: 6 - 8
  • High: 9 - 11
  • Very High: 12 - 14
  • Supreme: 15

New prisoners are entitled to an "Average" cell. Guards will move prisoners to match everyone to the right cell. How strict this is handled can be adjusted in the Policy report, and which is where it also can be enabled and disabled. A rooms grade can be viewed in the menu Logistics -> Room Quality. The cells grade will increase if the following criterias are met:

Cell Status

A cells occupy status can be viewed in Logstics - Cell Status tab. Cells that are highlighted in red (for occupied ones) and green (for not occupied). You can hover with your cursor over the occupied ones to see who's assigned to them and left click to be taken to the Prisoner. You can select a prisoner and right click on the free cell to assign him to in manually. Cell Status does not work for Dormitories.

Tips & Tricks

  • When starting a new prison build a holding cell or a dormitory as they are cheaper than individual cells.
  • Prisoners who are attempting to tunnel their way out of their cell will always start digging under the toilet.  Try to place toilets as far from the exterior wall as possible as this will decrease the likelihood of them reaching an insecure area before being detected.
  • Adding a window (with outdoor view) to a cell makes their need for freedom build up slower, which makes them less likely to construct escape tunnels.
  • Don't mark the doorway as part of the cell; the floor area marked as "cell" should be inside the perimeter of the walls and door squares.
  • Jail Doors will lock and unlock automatically when transitioning to and from periods of sleep/lockdown as edited in the regime. They will do this without door servo automation. Doors of any other type will require a guard or a door servo in order for them to open.
  • Even if their cell door is open, prisoners will not leave their cells during sleep/lockdown periods (regime slots) unless they are engaging in misconduct.


  • Prior to Alpha 13, cells did not have to be enclosed with walls and doors.