Prison Architect Wiki

Tips and Tricks

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


This section is tips about needs. You can see the needs of a prisoner if you hire a Psychologist .

Need Solution Regime
Bladder/Bowels Toilet Freetime/Sleep/Lockup
Sleep Bed Sleep/Freetime
Food Canteen ,Kitchen ,cook(s) Eat
Hygiene Shower Shower /Freetime
Clothing Laundry Work and Shower/Freetime
Comfort Bench /TV/Bed Sleep/Freetime/Eat/Nothing
Exercise Yard Yard/Freetime
Defense Fence/Perimeter/Wall around prison Any
Freedom Outside Areas(Yard)/Freetime Yard/Freetime
Family Phone booth /Visitation Yard/Freetime
Recreation TV /Pool Table Freetime

^ After Alpha 11 release, prisoners put on their clothes after showering during free time also.

  • A good way to lower the recreation need is put a TV in the cell.
  • Freetime can lower many needs.
  • Visitation isn't really needed, as prisoners can just use the phone booth.
  • 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 Freetime, you can still satisfy your inmates' needs by placing toilet, TV, shower, and other objects in canteen for prisoners to use after their meal. (by having showers in canteen, you do not need to have a separate shower time in your regime, and additional hour or two can be used for prisoners to do whatever they need to do)


This section is about the rooms.

  • 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, even minimum security inmates will attempt to smuggle out contraband.
  • 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.
  • Building multiple Workshops is inefficient unless they are adjacent to each other. The prisoners will walk from workshop to workshop.
  • Workshops and kitchens should be placed close to the delivery zone.
  • The bigger the Workshop, the more prisoners working. The maximum prisoner number that can work in a Workshop is 20. To get 20 prisoners to work in a Workshop, the room size has to be 240 (24x10 or 20x12 for exemple).
  • It is recommended to have your Workshop adjacent or close to Deliveries . 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 rooms to hold prisoners en masse for great profit, the only downside is that prisons 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.

Reduced Room SizeEdit

Many Rooms require a minimum size but often all that space isn't used. We can diagonally make them.
Look at the pages: Office and Kennel to see how. (Ponytentiary) 14:26, August 5, 2014 (UTC)


Tip 1 - Rows of SolitariesEdit

Tip 2 - Huge Solitaries' RoomEdit

(Ponytentiary) 14:26, August 5, 2014 (UTC)

Security Edit


A way to stop the prisoners from escaping

 This section is about Security.(duh!)

  • 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. Post Alpha 16 users will be able to use the Road Gate to secure the area.
  • The more guards you hire, the higher security your prison against dangerous prisoners will have.
  • Ordering your guards to patrol in cell blocks by the cells will reduce Prisoner's danger rate.
  • 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.
  • A good way to prevent fights in the showers, it's to put in every cell a shower, so the prisoners can take a shower during the free/lockup time (you should also add a grate to the exit of the cells)
  • Every room except the Cleaning cupboard, 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 and more strong 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 infirmary, they may attack doctors.
  • Perimeter walls may be expensive and take a long time to build but they're a formidable barrier for prisoners attempting to tunnel out.
  • Riots usually start when lots of prisoners with high needs are free (many prisoners in a common area, like a canteen/cellblock, outside of their cells/yard). To better prevent the riots, you should build smaller cellblocks/more smaller canteens/yards etc.
  • If prisoners are trying to escape, put armed guards at the exits of your prison.
  • 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 valuation.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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, and they can steal shotguns, pistols and batons from there.

  • 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. 

  • 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 "Weapons free" button in the bottom-right corner, and they will start using the shotguns immediately.

  • 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, 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, and dead.

  • 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 Trainers 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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. You can also use the fact that guards instantly appear where you click when you hire them to your advantage and have them instantly taze any escaping prisoners by simply hiring a new guard right on top of the prisoner (As of alpha 25 this trick no longer works. Guards must pass taser certificate program before getting tasers).

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Prisoners that continue to murder or break the rules (lots of times) should be locked in Supermax. If a Legendary Prisoner joins your prison, lock him in Supermax as SOON AS POSSIBLE.


  • To stop prisoner intake, 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.
  • It's recommened 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.
  • Creating storage rooms will help you save money. Because when you dismantle something, it will not be dumped, and you can reuse it later.
  • 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 Forman to save money. However, post Alpha 18, you'll need the Foreman to teach inmates Workshop safety and Carpentry skills.
  • 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.

  • Alpha 16 players can 'disassemble' trees and sell them to make quick, easy money. If you don't need the money immediatly, 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 carpenters table to turn the planks into beds, increasing profit even more.

  • You may left click on any staff member and right click a tile to force them to move to that tile.  This is very usefull 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.

  • 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 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.

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