Prison Architect Wiki

This page is for tips and tricks. Feel free to add your own.


Need Solution Regime
Sleep Bed Sleep/Freetime
Food Canteen, Kitchen, cook(s) Eat/Freetime
Hygiene Shower Shower/Freetime
Clothing Laundry Work and Shower/Freetime
Comfort Bench, TV, Chair, and Bed Sleep/Freetime/Eat/Nothing
Exercise Yard Yard/Freetime
Danger Fence, Wall, or Perimeter Wall around the prison Any
Freedom Outside Areas (Yard) & Freetime Yard/Freetime
Family Phone booth or Visitation Yard/Freetime
Recreation TV or Pool Table Freetime
Literacy Read book from Library, must sit Freetime/Yard/Lockup
Spirituality Visit Chapel Freetime/Work
Safety Danger Level is low Any

  • A good way to lower the recreation need is to put a TV in the cell.
  • If events are enabled, it is a good idea before you reach 100 prisoners that you create a virus ward for protective custody. You need to remember, however, what class the prisoners were before they are reclassed as protected. I recommend placing striped bars with certain colours so you can remember easily.
  • Free time can lower many needs at once so it is recommended to have a common room to boost need cover however.
  • Visitation isn't really needed, as prisoners can just use the phone booth. Note that having a Phone Tap is a good idea, just in case your inmates arrange contraband deliveries or other illegal activity.
  • Put objects that lower needs in the Yard. Phone booths and TVs are good ones.
  • Having higher quality meals can improve standards. This can be changed in the policy menu.
  • Even without Free time, you can still satisfy your inmates' needs by placing toilets, TVs, showers, and other objects in the canteen for prisoners to use after their meal and yard time. (By having showers in the canteen, you do not need to have a separate shower time in your regime, and an additional hour or two can be used for prisoners to do whatever they need to do)
  • In most cases, the prisoners will be finished eating before the eat part of the regime is over so it is recommended to place phone booths and weight benches in the canteen for inmates who are done eating, and want to contact their family or exercise.
  • It is a good idea to keep violent prisoners in their cells to avoid conflict. To prevent them from causing even more trouble while they do this, make sure each individual cell can cater to all their needs (except Freedom, obviously), such as Phone Booths for Family, Pet Birds for Family and Luxuries, TVs for Recreation, Bookshelves for Literature, and Computer Stations for Literature and Comfort. This may seem expensive for each prisoner, but violent (SuperMax and Legendary) offer a larger payment than lower securities, possibly enough to cancel this out.


This section is about the rooms.

  • The canteen CAN be built outside! You can use this to save money.
  • Building foundations instead of walls and demolishing where necessary is a great way to save money
  • Do some planning at the start using the Planning tool. While you do this, you can fire all your workers to make more profit, as they won't be doing anything while you plan. You can then re-hire them when it comes time to build.
    • Alternatively, you can simply pause time while planning, and unpause it when you're ready to start building. This will prevent workers being paid for doing nothing, as time will not pass when they would be doing nothing.
  • The Kitchen should have staff only doors as their entrance. This prevents prisoners from getting contraband. This doesn't apply if prisoners are working in the kitchen. If this is the case, place a metal detector at the door with a guard stationed nearby, because even minimum security inmates will attempt to smuggle out contraband.
  • As of Alpha 16, Solitary rooms do not require a Solitary Door or any size so the minimal requirement to build a solitary is 1X1.
  • The Kitchen and Canteen should be close to each other, this reduces the time for cooks to place food in the serving tables.
  • A good object to put in the Yard is a phone booth to reduce the needs for family and the possibility of rioting.
  • Building multiple Workshops is inefficient unless they are adjacent to each other. The prisoners will walk from workshop to workshop.
  • Kitchens should be placed close to Deliveries since ingredients are not stored in storages.
    • If you have island bound DLC, it's highly recommeded setting up helipad near kitchen and manually designate them to deliver food ingredients.
  • The bigger the Workshop, the more prisoners working. The maximum prisoner number that can work in a Workshop is 100. To get 20 prisoners to work in a Workshop, the room size has to be 240 tiles (24x10 or 20x12 for example).
  • It is recommended to have your Workshop adjacent or close to Deliveries if you do not have forestry. This is because the sheet metal required is delivered there and where your prisoners (or if Deliveries is set to staff only, your workmen) will collect it from.
  • Among all assignments at workshop, turning log into wood plank is the most profitable
    • You may want to disable importing of workshop material altogether to prevent metals taking up all the spaces in workshop.
    • You need to place workshop close to forestry location since you are not allowed to assign where the logs go. If it is too close to export, all the logs will go to export and not being processed into wood.
  • Workshops overflowing with Boards and Logs will cause the prisoners to mope about doing nothing. Sell excess Boards manually using the sell object tool to create demand and your prisoners will start sawing logs again.
  • The same goes for the Forestry, if there are too many logs in the workshop, trees will still be cut down but logs will stay in the Forestry instead of being taken to the workshop. Sell excess Boards, the prisoners will cut new ones and the problem will solve itself.
  • Staff rooms work best in the center of the prison so there is less of a distance for staff members to travel in order to reach it.
  • A good idea is to make the staff who wish to go to the Staff room walk through an Infirmary. That way, injured guards (or other staff members) can be healed on the way to the Staff room.
  • Laundry rooms are most efficient near your cell blocks. That way, there's less distance for your prisoners to travel between the two buildings.
  • Consider using Holding Cells to hold prisoners in mass for great profit, the only downside is that prisoners will crave Privacy. However, this is not much of a problem if you serve their other needs and you will find yourself running a profitable prison without having individual cells.
  • Armouries do not need to be in the prison. Your guards will only access it once to get the body armor and taser.
  • If you have injured prisoners piling up in your Infirmary who are waiting to go into Solitary, sometimes the Doctors won't heal them unless they are unconscious, and the Guards won't take them to Solitary. Try un assigning your Solitary cells and reassigning them. The Guards will come to get the prisoners and bring them to the new Solitary. Then the Doctors can go heal them in their Solitary cells.
  • Built some nice Dormitories, but now they are "too good" for your prisoners, so they are clogging up your Holding Cells? But are their needs not met in the Holding Cells, otherwise? Add a bench and turn those unused Dormitories into Holding Cells!
  • It may be cheap to make solitary cells empty, but you should consider a cold shower and drain. Prisoners often urinate, vomit or bleed in Solitary, meaning the cell gets dirtier and dirtier. Then your cleaning staff keeps hanging around waiting for Solitary doors to open and may run into angry prisoners. Also, prisoners are so dirty they rush to the Showers in a bad mood and may get into another fight. Cold showers on the other hand are known to have a moderate calming effect.
  • Alternatively add a Foam Mattress (the cheapest bed) so that they can sleep rather than spend all their time awake and agitated.

Reduced Room Size[]

  • Many Rooms require a minimum size but often all that space isn't used.
  • The minimum size of 3x2 for a Cell can be removed through the Small Cells bureaucracy item, but cells will still require a Bed and Toilet, meaning their minimum is 3x1 or 2x2.
  • Solitary cells do not require a toilet and can be a 1x1 space.


  • The more guards you hire, the higher security your prison will have against dangerous prisoners.
  • Hiring guard dogs will increase the security of your prison as the dogs are way faster than the prisoners and normal guards, but guard dogs have a liability to kill the prisoner if the dog gets mad.
  • Ordering your guards to patrol in cell blocks by the cells will reduce Prisoner's danger rate and will help prisoners to not try to dig a tunnel out of their cell.
    • Alternatively, put windows on corridor side so guards get a line of sight into cells.
  • A good way to prevent fights in the showers is to put a shower in every cell so the prisoners can take a shower during Freetime and Lockup (you should also add drains around the shower head.) Having a shower head in each cell can remove the need for the Shower room and schedule all together.
  • Every room except the Solitary, Execution, Morgue and Storage needs to have at least one guard stationed in it. If the room is behind staff only doors or better and is marked staff only in the Deployment screen, it is not quite as important, but still recommended.
  • Riot Guards may be effective against prisoner's attacks, but they will increase the danger level even if they do nothing.
  • Make sure to add a Guard on any infirmary only if there are usual fights, because when Prisoners go to the infirmary, they may attack doctors.
  • Position your Visitation Room carefully. Keep it away from the prison population and in a secure wing like where your offices are, anything which is behind a few jail doors to make it harder for angry inmates to reach. You don't want to be responsible for the deaths of visitors due to an unguarded and vulnerable room. Also, add guard dogs outside visitation so contraband does not get into the prison through visitors.
  • Build your Armoury in a secure place. If the prisoners are rioting or are trying to escape, they will try to break into the Armoury room so they can steal shotguns, pistols, and batons from there.
  • Armed guards will fight with the inmates using the fists, and will use the shotguns only if their lives are in danger (they are highly injured, or the inmates have dangerous weapons). After you hired at least one armed guard, you can press the "Free-Fire" button in the bottom-right corner, and they will start using the shotguns every possible time for attacks.
  • If you have armed guards on patrol, every prisoner they pass will be temporarily suppressed and will be less likely to cause trouble. You can see how many are suppressed in the danger status bar. However, armed guards also slightly increase the danger level, so it's a careful balance.
  • If you have Dog Handlers on patrol, every prisoner they pass will be sniffed by the dog and if they have drugs, poison, or any other smelly stuff, they will be discovered and searched.
  • The Tazer rollout in Bureaucracy will make your guards more expensive but is very valuable in case of a riot. Every single guard will be able to knock out one prisoner instantly, making it much more difficult for the prisoners to outnumber the guards.
  • The body armor also makes your guards more expensive but gives them better chances in combat with prisoners. Without body armor, having less than 1 guard to every attacking prisoner is very risky and likely to fail. With body armor, 2 guards together can usually take 3 attacking prisoners without too much trouble (meaning a riot of 30 prisoners only needs 20-25 guards to contain it, rather than 30 or more).
  • Combining both the Tazers and the body armor makes your guards extremely formidable. Riots of 50 prisoners could feasibly be stopped by only 20 guards.
  • The entrance to your canteen is a great place to put metal detectors, as prisoners will be forced to walk through them multiple times a day, twice for each meal.
    • You should still do periodic shakedown due to metal detectors having a handful of flaws.
  • It may seem to make sense to overpopulate your prison with armed guards, but if your prisoners are constantly under Suppression because there are armed guards everywhere they go, they will lose interest in signing up for reform programs, potentially crippling a notably viable source of income for your prison. Plus, they also increase the Danger level.
  • Prisoners that continue to murder or break the rules (lots of times) should be locked down in Supermax. If a Legendary Prisoner joins your prison, lock him in Supermax as SOON AS POSSIBLE and also make sure he cannot escape or murder prisoners easily. For example, (if you have more than 5 Super-Max Prisoners) create a separate wing from all the other prisoners and put a few armed guards as well.
  • To make Protective Custody a viable option, a separate unit of prison must be built for your snitching inmates. One very good strategy to prevent the murder of these prisoners is to build a protective wing where each cell is larger than usual and contains a shower, prayer mat, weight bench, TV, window and telephone. Then, place the inmate in permanent lockdown. This inmate has all need except freedom satisfied and are kept incredibly safe if they have a wall and an armed guard separating them from the general population of the prison. This can also be done with legendary prisoners to prevent them from causing havoc. The only problem is that the prisoners WILL NOT get fed, causing them to get angry. This may make them riot in their cells. **UNLESS! you have Alpha 30 and beyond because guards will deliver food from the kitchen to prisoners.**
  • You should always station a few guards in the parole room, since a prisoner that is rejected for parole, might get angry and attack the parole officer and the parole lawyer.
  • Contraband can be shipped in from outside your prison, you can reduce the amount of contraband entering from the outside of your prison by placing the delivery in its own room with a metal detector at the entrance.
  • Assigning a guard to a security room with monitors will move that guard to a monitor on entering the room and opening the stationed spot again. This will cause all stations to be manned most of the time, as long as you have enough guards.
  • Build a fence around the entire land ASAP. This is great for keeping prisoners in and preventing them from running for it if a momentary gap opens in the main wall/building, during construction for example. This costs only $1,056 for a small map, $1,596 for a medium map, and $2,136 for a large map, so is easy to achieve early game with a few days saving or small bank loan. This also does not interfere with building much, and can easily be expanded if more land is purchased. I have also found that doubling the fences (with a gap of about 3 between the fences) greatly reduces the number of contraband drop offs in the prison. However, this is not as effective for preventing escapes with escape plans enabled, as prisoners can climb the fences.


  • In case of a riot, the guards will stay away from the areas controlled by prisoners (the red ones). These areas are too dangerous for them, and only the riot police, national guard, elite ops, and armed guards can access the red areas.
  • As soon as a riot starts, pause the game and hire a few new guards right where the riot is happening. Sure, it may cost some money, but the riot will usually be almost instantly quelled, greatly lowering the amount of damage, injured, unconscious and dead.
  • Use the armed guards carefully during a riot. Armed guards can kill your inmates with their shotguns, and the value of the prison will go down. Make sure the inmates don't beat up the armed guards, because they can pick up their weapons and use them.
  • If there is a riot, sometimes, it's better to send the riot police, than the armed guards (if you don't want to stop it immediately, and there are no staff members in the area, which can be killed), because the armed guards may kill your prisoners and reduce the prison value, and it is worse for a prisoner to steal a gun than a baton.
  • Many fights and riots start when high-security inmates are in the same areas as lower security ones.
  • Don't be shy to add extra jail doors in corridors. If you set them to be locked open, they won't hinder your staff or prisoners, but they will still lock closed if you lockdown the prison. Consider placing Solitary doors to make it even more difficult for the riot to spread.
  • Placing Solitary or Remote Doors in the entrances of Armouries decreases the chance of prisoners stealing guns during riots.
  • Don't put your Armoury door outside. Place it adjacent to an area like the Security room, where there will usually be guards posted for cameras and phone taps. Designate it as a Staff Only area so that working prisoners don't try to clean it.
  • During a riot, you can send your guards in the areas controlled by prisoners (the red ones), but you can't hire new guards, inside those areas.
  • Riots usually start when lots of prisoners with high needs are free, and there are many prisoners in a common area, like a canteen, cellblock (outside of their cells), or in the yard. To better prevent the riots, you should build more and smaller cellblocks/canteens/yards, etc.
  • In the aftermath of a big riot, you may have a long waiting list for Solitary, and prisoners cuffed all over your prison. To get them through Solitary quickly, use the room editor to draw a "Solitary" room around each of them. It won't count as a room that the guards will bring prisoners to, but will start their countdown and make their Solitary sentence "ACTIVE," getting them back to normal sooner (and less likely to starve while waiting!). This trick also works well for prisoners left in the doorway to a Solitary cell (the guards think they are in, but their time doesn't count down), or stuck in limbo in the Infirmary.
  • If you have a helipad, you can call in elite ops in the emergencies tab, they have assault rifles and are good for taking down riots as they are able to shoot rioters until they are unconscious whereas armed guards can kill prisoners more often.


A way to stop the prisoners from escaping

  • A good way to stop escaping prisoners is fencing. Since you can't build in the road and blocking the deliveries zone will stop prisoners from getting in, use a staff door and leave the deliveries zone out. You can also use the Road Gate to secure the area.
  • Dogs run much faster than prisoners do. Having a dog trainer on patrol near potential escape routes (i.e. the road) makes it much more difficult for prisoners to run to freedom.
  • If prisoners are trying to escape, put armed guards and dog handlers at the exits of your prison.
  • Perimeter walls may be expensive and take a long time to build but they're a formidable barrier for prisoners attempting to tunnel out.


  • It's recommended to take grants at the beginning of the game. They will help fund the prison. Use a grant mod to gain even more capital if you want to expand quicker.
  • The two recommended grants at the beginning of the games are Basic Detention Centre and the Administration Grant. These will help you get your prison up and running.
  • Creating storage rooms will help you save money. Because when you dismantle something, it will not be dumped, and you can reuse it later.
  • Focus on building a Workshop early in the game. A group of low-risk security prisoners making plates will be easier to manage than a prison of high-security prisoners and you will be spending less on the guard's wages, especially since update 30, where only the initial payment between prisoners differs. Also keep the amount of suppression low, so that your prisoners take up the reform programs.
  • Alpha 16 players can 'disassemble' trees and sell them to make quick, easy money. If you don't need the money immediately, the wood from the trees can be processed into planks by prisoners working in the workshop and will be worth more. Even further, prisoners trained in carpentry can use the carpenter's table to turn the planks into beds, increasing profit even more.
  • Don't be afraid to sell your prison. It's likely your first prison is built very haphazardly, with buildings in semi-random, inefficient places, as you were still learning. However, selling your prison means you get to start over from scratch, but you start out with all the money you've earned and invested in your sold prison, allowing you to build with the intention of expanding, knowing how big things can eventually get. You can even make a new save then sell your prison, and you'll still be able to go back and play the first prison.
  • Once you have a basic prison running, there is a good way to raise money. First, you need an accountant and to have researched bank loans. Then, sell all your shares and take a large bank loan which greatly decreases the prison value. This means you can buy back your shares for less money, after which you can repay the bank loan. Of course, the bank loan needs to be of sufficiently large for this to pay off, otherwise, you could end up losing money.
  • If you really need money early game, have a positive cash flow and a lot of time on your hands, you can set a time faster and wait for cash flow to build up your funds. If certain staff members such as Workers aren't doing anything, you can temporarily fire them to earn even more money. Just make sure not to fire anybody important like Cooks, Guards, or Janitors! A great way to spend your time waiting for money is reading articles on this wiki!
  • It is cheaper to build solar panels and wind turbines to supply electricity to the prison. But they can be easily deactivated, causing your prison to run amok. Build a backup power generator and use a power switch just in case a prisoner beats up the solar panels or wind turbines.


  • To stop prisoner intake, the continuous intake must be off and all 3 prisoner threat levels must be off. To turn off the prisoner threat levels, go to the report, then prisoners tab and close all 3 levels. - Since Alpha 30 you can also specify the number of prisoners your prison receives. -
  • It used to be that the only thing a Foreman does is research, and once you had researched Cleaning, Grounds Keeping, Prison Labour, and Clone, you could fire the Foreman to save money. However, post Alpha 18, you'll need the Foreman to teach inmates Workshop Safety and Carpentry skills.
  • You can left click on any staff member and right click a tile to force them to move to that tile. This is very useful for stopping fights, healing people, detecting drugs, etc. Note that doing this to any guard will remove them from their patrol or station, but another guard will (usually) pick it up after they leave. You can also do this with prisoners, and a guard will come along shortly to escort them to the location you desire.
  • Replace shower time with free time, if prisoners want a shower they can have one and prisoners that don't want a shower can do what they like, this avoids jamming all your prisoners in one room where people could start fights and riot.
  • Early on, if you have minimum security prisoners it might actually be a benefit if you use riot guards as normal guards early on, and only have 2-3 guards to open doors, and do tasks.
  • Even though the Armed Guards may prevent the prisoners from causing trouble, by suppressing them, the suppressed prisoners may have trouble during the reform programs, because their concentration will be affected by their suppressed status. A good solution is to keep the armed guards away from the classrooms and make sure that the prisoners spend some time away from the armed guard, before they go to the classroom.
  • A good way to reduce the re-offending chance of a prisoner, and also increase his chance for parole, is to have him go to the chapel, because the Spiritual Guidance course is easy, and an inmate may pass it more than once, thereby improving his Reform status and decreasing his re-offending chance.
  • If a deadly prisoner is causing you trouble, by killing inmates or staff during fights, you should lock him for the rest of his sentence (permanent punishment) in his cell, and also providing him with some equipment to satisfy his needs. Note that a guard will be sent to bring him food. In case he manages to break out of his cell during a riot, or an escape, you should deal with him using Armed Guards or Guard with tazers, because the regular guards might get killed.
  • Always use Large Water Pipes when connecting cold water pipes to boilers. This gives the maximum travel distance of hot water (59 blocks) versus Small Water Pipes which only grant a maximum of 46 blocks and decrease by 1 for each small pipe between the boiler and the nearest watered large pipe.
  • Adding sinks to the canteen allows cooks to wash trays much closer to the serving tables and reduces travel distance.
  • Typically, the ratio for refrigerators to cookers is 1:2, but having a 1:1, 2:1 or even higher ratio means that food is delivered to your prison half as often. This allows you to check ingredients for contraband more frequently and catch it as it arrives.
  • You can get Boilers to be inside walls by bulldozing (Demolish walls will not work, neither will clear indoor area because the area is still 'Indoors') a 4x3 rectangle, and then planning a 2x1 foundation in the middle (where the new foundation does not touch other 'indoors' areas) and before the 2x1 foundation is completed, telling your workmen to build a boiler in the same 2x1 area. The Little 2x1 foundation will form walls where the boiler will go, while the workmen will still place the boiler in the walls. Afterwards you can fill in the rest of the bulldozed area using more foundations, but be careful not the include the boiler-wall combination in the new foundation, because it will be demolished.
  • Activate your informant(s) at midnight (during sleep regime), prisoners with tools contraband are probably digging or going to start digging a tunnel.
  • Warning: Prisoners can hijack lorries and fill them with up to 8 prisoners, and lockdown gates will cause the lorry to crash, killing everybody aboard. However they don't know how to pilot Boats and Helicopters (yet).
  • It is best to use Remote Doors for the entrance of the Armoury , but it will not be opened unless a guard is controlling the Door Control System.
  • It is recommended for you to use the fence or brick/concrete wall at the start, so you can save money to build Perimeter Wall.
  • Build the forestry near the workshop as planks are more profitable than License Plates.
  • You can start the Carpentry Program, so you can make Superior Beds for even MORE profit.
  • Wood plank is the most profitable export per prison labor hour, more so than making Superior Beds.
  • It is recommended to block every escape routes.
  • Make sure to use the planning tool, as it can help you to plan out any cell blocks, kitchen, cafeteria, the office/administration area to make sure there are no mistakes in making the foundations or walls ;)
  • For easy access for your staff, make some small corridors with jail doors for entrances/exits that lead to key locations. Make sure to make it staff only!

Protective Custody, Supermax, Death Row[]

  • Research Permanent Punishments before you take in your first prisoners.
  • Build Protective Custody, Death Row, and Supermax cells with beds, toilets, showers, drains, phone booths, weight benches, TVs, radios, office desks, chairs, and bookshelves so they have no other place to go. Make sure the cell is 16 spaces.
  • If a Snitch, Ex-Prison Guard, or Ex-Law Enforcement is taken in, immediately move them to Protective Custody and put them in permanent lockdown with armed guard patrols. They will have every need taken care of since the guards will give them clean uniforms and food to prevent them from starving, they can use the showers and toilets, and more.
  • For Supermax, give each prisoner permanent lockdown with armed guard and sniper patrols. (It helps if Freefire is on too.)
  • Death Row inmates do not follow regime and will only leave their cell during an appeals hearing.

Sample Regime[]

This regime assumes the prisoners are segregated in security class.

Minimum Security and maximum

11pm-7am -> Sleep

8am -> lockup

9am - 10am -> Eat

11am-12pm -> Yard

1pm-2pm -> FreeTime

3pm -> Eat

4pm-6pm -> FreeTime/work

7pm -> lockup/work

8pm-9pm -> eat

10pm -> Lockup

Medium Security and criminally insane (pc only/dlc)

10pm-5am -> Sleep

6am-7am ->Lockup

8 am-10am -> Freetime

11am ->Eat

12pm-1pm ->Shower

2pm-3pm ->yard

3pm-5pm ->freetime/work

5pm-6pm ->eat

7pm-8pm ->lockup

9pm ->sleep

Escaping From Prisons[]

  • Tunnels are easily taken care of, avoid using them unless close to an exit point.
  • Breaking showers will grant you the most points early on. Showers are easy to break and are often plentiful, especially in shower rooms.
  • Lighters can sometimes burn down walls, provided that you can spam left click on a piece of furniture by a wall. Since fire blocks off guards, you can use the lighter to prevent being chased or attacked. Fire from lighters will go away the instant you stop fighting or surrender.
  • Due to the attack speed of the drill, it is the best melee weapon in the game. Always use a drill if you want to fight your way through a large group of guards or dogs.
  • To avoid metal detectors, try to go around them by hugging the wall.
  • Tasers can knock out snipers, provided you are close enough to hit them. Use this to your advantage.
  • Keep a large group. This will allow you to always have someone available should you be killed, unconscious, or punished. It will also give you people to back you up, and you can start riots easier.
  • Always keep essential tools stored, such as keys, tasers, guns, drills and lighters.
  • Tired of your weapons running out of bullets (or taser cartridges)? Simply store and unstore a weapon to fully restore its ammunition. This is mainly for farming points on guards and workers so that you can create a bigger group for an escape. It is not advised as an escape strategy unless you can store your weapon(s) in places along your route.