Epic jail: inside the UK’s optimised ‘super-prison’ warehouses

Inmate deaths are up by 20% in the UK, the most incarcerated nation in western Europe. Can prisons designed using virtual reality modelling undo the harm? A huge image of a snowcapped mountain covers the wall at the end of a long corridor of cells in Her Majesty’s Prison Berwyn, providing a glimmer of relief from the sterile landscape of indestructible concrete walls and wipe-clean floors, flooded with harsh white light. What the polished PR images of the model £220m “super-prison” in Wrexham, north Wales, don’t convey is the constant echo of banging doors and shouting; the lack of ventilation, or the fact that the cell ceilings are so low you can press your hand flat against them. Nor do …