When it comes to designing correctional buildings, safety is of paramount importance that site. Unseen but crucial is the concept of ligature resistance: designing environments that minimize risk of self harm or suicide through fixtures and structures which make it impossible for a ligature attachment. This concept has a lot of importance in places such as prisons, jails or mental health facilities, where the risk is higher.
It is easy to wonder why such a thing would be so significant. Picture this: household fixtures, such as handles and hooks, can be used by detainees to harm themselves. You might not think that these objects could be a threat if they’re not designed well.
Designing a ligature resistant product flips the concept on its head. It’s about smoothing things out, literally and metaphorically. In a jail, every aspect is important. From the type of door latch to the angle of shower rods. There are sloped top towel racks replacing traditional designs and grab bars by the toilets and showers.
Intriguingly, this high level of safety can be achieved without compromising aesthetics and without creating spaces that seem overly institutional. Modern ligature resistent products come in many shapes and sizes. The focus is on blending security with a more homely look. This is because the prison environment can play a large role in inmates mental health. The environment should not be too restrictive, as this can help to reduce stress.
It’s all about innovation and constant vigilance. Designers and facility management must play chess by anticipating moves and planning a few steps ahead. The ultimate goal is creating an environment which supports care and rehabilitation, while mitigating risks that may lead to tragic results.