Prison Architect Wiki

A prisoner's needs as shown in their tooltip

Needs are what Prisoners require in order to behave in a conduct deemed appropriate and manageable. Throughout their stay at your facility, Prisoners will always try to complete activities or tasks that will satiate their physical and psychological needs.

General Info[]

You can check what needs your prisoners have by hovering over them: a tooltip will pop up, showing you the status of their needs.

Every need has a 'charge' shown in the prisoner's tooltip by a series of dots, from 1 to 10, and they are a valuation on how severe that need is. The dots will grow in number until they reach 10, at which point the text in the tooltip will turn brighter and the prisoner will suffer the side effect of the need, if present (e.g. for the food need, they will gain the status 'starving'; for the bladder need, they will wet themselves). When the text turns green it means the prisoner is currently dealing with the need, and it will lose dots more or less quickly.

Needs Tooltip 3.png
The food need while at low intensity, at maximum intensity, and while being dealt with.

Prisoners with unmet needs may:

  • Be generally unhappy;
  • Start fights and attack staff members;
  • Attempt an escape;
  • Instigate or participate in a riot;
  • Become criminally insane (if Psych Ward (DLC) is enabled)

Psychologists are the administrators responsible for the revelation of the needs of your Prisoners.

When prisoners have needs, they tend to express it out loud. You can see this by balloons with an icon describing the need they are currently complaining for. If you hover with your cursor over it you can also get an explicative text of what that prisoner needs.

Need balloon.png
A prisoner expressing his need for alcohol, and the same balloon when your mouse cursor is nearby.
Need complain.png
Some prisoners like to complain more often and for nothing in particular, and when this happens you will see a 'shouting balloon' with a generic icon.

Need List[]

In total, there are 22 needs a Prisoner may have.

These 22 needs are the following:

Bladder Prisoners will need to use the toilet from time to time in order to relieve their bladder need. Prisoners will seek out a Toilet to use. Prisoners will urinate on the floor.
Bowels Prisoners will need to use the toilet from time to time in order to relieve their bowels need. Prisoners will seek out a Toilet to use. Prisoners will soil their jumpsuits.
Sleep Prisoners will require sleep when they are tired. This need gradually becomes larger over the course of a day. Prisoners will seek out a bed or a Bunk Bed to sleep in. Prisoners' work efficiency will drop.
Food Prisoners will require food when they get hungry. This need gradually becomes larger over the course of a day. Prisoners will eat in a Canteen once prison cooks prepare meals. Prisoners will begin to starve.
Hygiene Prisoners will desire for bodily cleanliness. Prisoners will seek out a shower to wash themselves. No action.
Clothing Prisoners will desire clean clothes to wear. Prisoners will put on new clothes delivered by Janitors or Prisoners working in a laundry room. No action.
Comfort Prisoners will need to sit and relax from time to time. Prisoners will seek out a sofa, chair, bench or a bed to sit/lay down upon. No action.
Exercise Prisoners will desire to stay in shape. Prisoners will seek to run around a yard or use a Weights Bench. No action.
Safety Despite being in a prison, Prisoners will desire to feel safe. Prisoners may steal weapon contraband to protect themselves. No action.
Freedom Prisoners will desire time outside of their cells and a permissive regime to perform activities that they desire. Add additional freetime in the prison regime to allow Prisoners to stretch their legs and explore the prison. Arcade Cabinets can also help alleviate the Freedom need. No action.
Family Prisoners will desire to see/speak to their families. Prisoners will call family members via a phone booth, or meet with family members in visitation. No action.
Recreation Prisoners get bored easily and will desire to have fun. Prisoners will seek to play on Pool Tables, listen to Radios or watch TV, objects typically housed in a Common Room. No action.
Environment Prisoners will desire to live in a clean prison. Hire Janitors to clean your prison floors. No action.
Privacy Prisoners will desire some alone time in their own cells. Ensure that every Prisoner has their own cell. Prisoners in Dormitories or Holding Cells will have insatiable Privacy needs. No action.
Literacy Prisoners with certain traits may desire to read books. Build a library and have Prisoners work in it. They, however, must have passed the Foundation Education Program. No action.
Spirituality Prisoners will desire to worship and attend religious services. Build a chapel, run Spiritual Guidance programs and install Prayer Mats. No action.
Drugs Some prisoners may have drug addictions and thus will desire to take drugs. Run Pharmacological Treatment of Drug Addiction programs in an Infirmary in order to quell the need. This, however, will not remove it entirely. Prisoners will go into a state of withdrawal. They may vomit.
Alcohol Some prisoners may have alcohol addictions and thus will desire to consume alcohol. Run an Alcoholics Group Therapy program in a Common Room. Prisoners will go into a state of withdrawal. They may vomit.
Warmth Prisoners will get cold whilst outside (if Weather & Temperature is enabled). Install Radiators throughout your prison. Supply hot water to Shower Heads. If if too cold, Prisoners may become frigid.
Luxuries Prisoners will desire to shop for luxury items. Build Shops around your prison and have Prisoners to work there. No action.
Hydration Prisoners will become thirsty after a while, and will need to drink water to stay hydrated. Build drinking fountains around your prison. Unknown.

The following last two needs apply to female prisoners only.

(Baby) Sleep Babies will require to sleep. Install a Crib so that a baby may sleep there. No action.
(Baby) Play Babies will require to play. Install Play Mats so that babies can play. No action.

Needs Chance[]

Some needs are optional and only a fraction of the prisoners have them. The chance for a prisoner to have a certain need may differ between male and female inmates.

As an extra note, prisoners only have the Family need if they have family members (listed in the 'Biography' tab of their Prisoner Profile).

Need Male Female
Safety 90% 90%
Hygiene 80% 95%
Exercise 60% 30%
Recreation 70% 60%
Comfort 70% 70%
Environment 70% 70%
Privacy 50% 85%
Freedom 66% 66%
Drugs 20% 20%
Alcohol 20% 20%
Spirituality 33% 33%
Literacy 20% 20%
Luxuries 70% 70%

Needs Report[]

Reports needs prisoners.jpg

You can have a general view of your Prisoners' needs via the Needs tab in the Reports.

The colour is indicative of the severity of the need.

Red Critical This need has not been met sufficiently for a prolonged amount of time. Prisoners will undoubtedly be disgruntled by this and will most likely cause trouble if the need remains unsatisfied.
Orange High This need has gone on unmet for a considerable amount of time and thereby will begin to irritate your Prisoners.
Yellow Medium This need has gone unsatisfied for only a short period of time: an acceptable level for your Prisoner's needs to be at. Misconduct is unlikely among your Prisoners.
Green Satisfied This need has been satisfied and fully met.
Blue Active This need is currently being dealt with.

Staff Needs[]

Reports needs staff.PNG

As of Update 11, staff have their own needs and will no longer work like automatons in your facility. Staff needs differ only slightly from the needs of Prisoners. The overall principle, however, is identical.

  • Instead of sleeping, staff members will rest briefly in a Staff Room.
  • Staff members do not have needs for: spirituality, family, luxury, alcohol or drugs, privacy, freedom, clothing, hygiene nor a need for exercise.
  • Staff members will not cause trouble in your prison when their needs are not met, but their performance as a staff member will be severely hampered. For example, Guards may conduct inefficacious searches of Cells and Prisoners and, thus, may miss contraband. Gardeners and Janitors may not maintain complete cleanliness of your prison. Staff members will saunter around your prison, Guards may turn a blind eye to trouble or may be unwilling to quell misbehaving Prisoners.

Other than the aforementioned needs, staff needs are identical to Prisoner needs. Staff members will not use Toilets shared with other Prisoners: they will require toilets that are located in an area designated as staff only. Furthermore, they will not eat with the prison population. Therefore, they will require their own Staff Canteen which can be made by designating any available Canteen as staff only.

Staff members will only seek to satiate their needs while they are on break. You can control the percentage of the staff population that can go on break at any given time via the Policy page in Reports.

Staff members may become disgruntled if they are insufficiently paid for their job. You can award staff pay rises, as well as pay cuts, in increments of 10% at any given time. Pay rises will heavily cut into your financial income.

Staff Strike[]

An general idea of staff morale is shown in the staff section of the upper bar. Staff morale will be decreased by the following circumstances:

  • A staff death, e.g. a Guard;
  • An injured staff member;
  • A pay cut;
  • A general lack of satisfied staff needs.

If, at any time, staff morale reaches 0%, the vast majority of your staff members will abandon their duties, march outside of your prison walls, and participate in a staff strike, where they will protest for a pay rise. They will remain outside until the pay rise is given.

During a staff strike, many of the normal operations of your prison will be halted. This can spell trouble for your prison and your Prisoners.

If Failure Conditions are enabled, a long lasting staff strike can spell a game over.