10 Prison Architect Beginner Tips

6. Contraband

Contraband are items that your prisoners have stolen/smuggled in, and which are considered illegal. There are four categories.

Weapons – Dangerous to all. An armed prisoner who participates in a riot would be a very real danger to your staff and other prisoners.

Drugs – Do not seem to have any visible negative effect (other than being illegal)

Tools – Used for escaping your prison.

Luxury – Not dangerous at all, but it is still contraband.

Contraband is obtained from a number of sources. Family members could smuggle it in during a visit, the prisoner himself might smuggle it in when arriving to your prison, or it was stolen from one of your rooms. For example, a prisoner working in a workshop could obtain heavy-duty tools to escape with, or your canteen’s forks could be stolen for weapons.

Prison Architect

By using the Contraband screen you can check where prisoners could obtain certain pieces of contraband and you can also review what contraband was recently found, and where was it stolen/smuggled from.

You can order a number of possible searches, targeting an individual and his cell, an entire cell block ,or your whole prison. The larger the scale of your search the more unhappy your prisoners could be. Searching a prisoner’s cell is never as bad as searching a prisoner, especially if he is innocent.

Depending on the contraband found during a search a prisoner could be put in Isolation or Lockdown. During a search you may also stumble on tunnels, which gives you a good pretext to search the prisoner who previously lived in the cell.

7. About the Prisoners

There are three types of prisoners. Min, Medium and High Sec. Each Prisoner type offers you different rewards, for every day they stay at your prison. 50$ for MinSec, 100$ for MediumSec and 150$ for HighSec. It’s not just about the money though. MinSec prisoners are normally very calm, and you will have a hard time forcing them into a riot. HighSec are the most dangerous, as they tend to be the most murderous, making them explode will be much easier than with Medium and LowSec.

You can make these three types of prisoners share a Cell Block, and if you keep everything under control you should have no problem with HighSec Prisoners either. However, HighSec prisoners may bring in very dangerous contraband, so you will have to regularly check them for firearms and other dangerous tools, or they might cause a serious problem for your prison.

You can decide what types of prisoners will come in, and while there are different types of prisoners a LowSec prisoner could stay in prison for as long as a HighSec prisoner, simply because he might had committed numerous smaller crimes.

If you managed to build an efficient and secure prison then having HighSec prisoners only, for maximum profit, could be the way to go.

 8. Escape 101

Prisoners will build tunnels in an attempt to escape your prison. They will usually try to take the shortest route possible, which means that they could dig their tunnel right next to your patrolling officer, but it is just as likely that they could exploit an area without any guard patrols.

The best way to stop such an escape from happening is to perform prison cell block searches. If you do not want to anger your prisoners start a Cell Block search when all your prisoners are in the yard. This will tag only their cells/toilets, so you won’t have any incidents of unfair searching. If there was a tunnel your guards will find it.

Prison Architect

During a recent contraband search a tunnel was uncovered. Workers will have to get rid of it before the cell can be used again.

Making periodical searches, ever two or three days, may be a good idea, if you are afraid that your prisoners are up to something.

A good way of delaying an escape attempt it to build a perimeter fence around your prison. Since a prisoner needs to reach the outer wall having a fence will force him to dig for longer, thus giving you more time to discover the tunnel.

Given the opportunity prisoners may also use other methods to escape your prison. They may get a hold on keys, allowing them to leave the prison at an opportune time, or they may use a clog-up in the door system to run through when nobody is watching. It is very important to sort through the different rooms and areas in your prison, and underline which of them prisoners can have access to, and not (this can be done through Deployment Mode). I had two escape attempts once, when my prisoners, working as cleaners, were allowed OUTSIDE the wall, in order to reach the Administrative Offices, in order to clean them up. Of course, as soon as they left the perimeter they made a dash for the map’s edge, but my guards were faster. Pay careful attention to your Deployment map!


About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of AlterGamer.com he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

13 Responses to 10 Prison Architect Beginner Tips

  1. anyone says:

    Very nice article

  2. Fantastic. Thank you. You can also sell your prison if you meet the requirements. The advantage is that the profits carry over to the next game. I closed prisoner intake, built a prison big enough for 72 prisoners, sold it, and started the new game with over $200,000!

  3. Scott says:

    Regarding #1. When you start a new prison, PAUSE the game. Give yourself time to think and start planning out where you want things. If Lakes are turned on, you’ll want to check if you’ll have unusuable tiles. You can do that by using the Foundations tool to click and drag over an area. Anywhere that turns Red is unbuildable. I ended up restarting because there was going to literally be a single tile in the center of my initial cell block that was going to be completely un-buildable.

    Use the Planning Tool to lay out where you want walls and pathways/halls, and mark spaces for different objects. Once you have a basic idea about where you want to start, then it’s just a matter of tracing the Foundations tool over your various wall placements.

    If you’re smart about what you prioritize building first (holding cell and getting utilities up and running, you can often get the finishing touches done before the first inmates show up.

    The Essentials are: Holding Cell, Shower, Kitchen, Canteen, and a Yard. I’d also add an Office for a Warden (to get Bureaucracy going) and usually prioritize getting the Accountant for unlocking the ability to have three simultaneous Grants. These are all fairly easy to get accomplished within the first 24 game-hours. Often my only mistake is forgetting to place furniture and other objects to have the rooms function. I hired an Accountant, but forgot to place her furniture.

    Regarding #5. You can take this idea to the max. Not all rooms need to be completely closed off to qualify, as long as their length and width dimensions qualify. Try this for an Open Concept Office: Build a room that is 9×9 in size. Use the Room tool to specify four offices, one in each corner, leaving the center horizontal and vertical strips without walls. Use the Staffroom tool to specify the space between the offices as a Staff Room. Place a wide sofa in the staff room strip and a drink machine against one walls. Place all appropriate Office Furniture. To further define the areas, use floor materials to customize the look of each office and staff room.

    Also, combine rooms that synergize. Infirmary+Morgue. You don’t need a wall between the two or any doors. As far as I know, inmates won’t care about sharing a medical space with dead bodies.

    8×8 Security office with a 4×4 corner staff room. Alternatively, you could probably put the staff room in the center of the Security room to make a nice lounge, and have all the security related things around the outside of this. Regarding the Armory, I would probably make it it’s own room attached to the Security Office, as it can become a potential liability should the Prisoners run wild.

    Regarding the Canteen, it would be advisable to place a few toilets within the Canteen to allow those prisoners who are in the “Eat” part of the Regime to relieve their Bowels and Bladder. I had minimum security inmates who were about to Riot because they were stuck in the Canteen for two hours without any access to a toilet. Having Entertainment and Phone options can also help relieve those needs. My only option was to flip the regime to Free Time to allow them to do so.

    Regarding the Shower, you only require drains at any entrances to prevent water from passing through.

    Regarding the Infirmary, having more beds allows more Inmates to participate in I believe Drug Recover Programs within the same session. Each session costs money, so the more inmates you can squeeze into a session the cheaper it’ll be per inmate, especially if there is a queue of interested people. Same goes for all the program-related things. Chairs for Therapy, Desks for Education, Work Stations (saws or presses, etc), for Workshop programs.

  4. Matrix Architect says:

    Nice article, but youre doing one thing wrong.
    The drains at shower doesnt really “drains” the water. It works as walls to water. So all you need is to put 3 drains at door of shower room to ensure water dont go out. the time that water exists is not related with amount of drains.

  5. saya says:

    they got rid of the continuous intake option, now the prisoners all just pile up :(

    • WriterX says:

      So I noticed, and now you have much less control over what prisoners you would like to come in. I remember I recently wanted to expand one of my prisons, and built a High-Security block… then I looked at the Intake and all I had were Medium Sec. Not the end of the world, but I was a bit surprised.

    • niknik says:

      I just found that you can control intake in the reports under intake

  6. Trelox says:

    adding aditional iteam into cell fill prisoner need like blandder and etc

  7. Tuesday Wang says:

    Why can’t I complete some buildings? And then I try to demolish them and they refuse to be demolished?

  8. Tuesday Wang says:

    Oh, and how do I ‘assign people to a canteen? I built another canteen and no one goes there to eat?

    • Scott says:

      You need to assign a cell block to that Canteen before prisoners in it will use it. Normally the game will try to determine which canteens will handle which cell blocks, but not always. Under Logistics, select Food Distribution. Select the cell block you want to assign and then the canteen you want them to use.

      The game will show the default assignments as dotted lines, and your manual overrides with solid lines. You can do the same thing with Kitchens to Canteens so that you can make sure your Kitchens are serving the appropriate canteens.

      If you don’t have micromanagement unlocked in Bureaucracy, you might not be able to adjust your kitchens and canteens.

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