Gilded Cages

New designs for jails and prisons are showing positive results. The question is, can we afford them?

Last New Year's Day, Boston's Sheriff Robert Rufo gave 935 hardened criminals a present: a postmodern pink concrete-and-brick high-rise home -- a new designer prison, with a colonnaded inner courtyard where the inmates, clad in bright orange jackets, could stroll in pairs. Inside, brightly colored dayrooms equipped with televisions, butcher-block tables and cushy chairs completed a picture of serenity. For inmates and their watchers alike, it was a far cry from the dank, forbidding, Victorian-style Suffolk County House of Correction they had left behind on the banks of Boston Harbor. Gone were the five tiers of cages, the earsplitting clash of...

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