Prison: The Greatest Soap Opera Ever (Prison Architect)


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Concept: FD and I running prisons in Prison Architect. We post updates. We post drama. We post convoluted forum lore storyline. You post suggestions.

About Prison Architect: Prison Architect is a prison management sandbox that's currently in its 26th month of alpha and is available for early access on steam. It receives monthly updates, each with a youtube video explaining the update content (

Originally, this post only included the above intro and information on my first prison attempt. I have since repurposed it to include the entire story so far from my end and will continue to update it as more story gets developed. You can see the details of my first prison attempt in the first spoiler below. Click on the Google Drive link and begin with Day 0 if your only interest is reading the Crime Unit storyline.

Day 1: Building a Prison
I built a prison. Got some buildings. Started electricity and water very late.

Day 2: Prisoners Arrive (Pictures in Spoilers)
Prisoners, enraged by lack of water in their toilets, start their time in prison by murdering a fellow inmate (he was apparently a snitch). Above is some of the aftermath (I missed the opportunity to get the screenshot with the dead body).
Prisoners enjoying a lights-out meal in the canteen. Lighting eventually established midway through meal time.

At this point, every facet of the prisoners' lives has been lighten up and given running water.
The Warden and his staff, however...they don't need electricity as much as these inmates do.

Day 3: More Violence. Begin Building Individual Cells. Less Screenshotting

New prisoners arrive. Immediate case of fighting in the holding cell. Everyone is complaining about not sleeping because apparently benches aren't good enough for them. I start building individual cells for them. Main reason for doing this: 20k in grant money if I build 15 individual cells.

Building individual cells takes a long time. I keep running into technical issues with the building restraints as I learn the building system better (still don't completely understand it). Throughout this time workers are, at all hours, running through the main holding cell to access and build in the individual cell area. Somehow none of them get attacked. However: All the prisoners steel drills and hammers from them.

At this time I, annoyed by how much trouble I'm having with getting these 15 cells set up (grant money once I get 15) and worried about the upcoming waves of prisoners, turn off the flow of new prisoners.

At this point, 90% of my prisoners are awaiting punishments in solitary confinement. I, not understanding this, have yet to build a solitary confinement chamber. Warden also has more staff people in his area, which still has no electricity.

Day 6: Final (Also Day I built Solitary Confinement Chamber)
With the flow of prisoners turned off, I just focus on learning what's going on with my building rules mostly. My prison is too efficient at dealing with the small number of prisoners I have. 0 riots occured throughout. Only fatality: that one snitch on Day 1. Game is too easy.

Note the path from the holding cell to the individual cell area. That's where I had workers constantly moving through every day from day 3 to 6. Into the cell, through the shower, to the construction site (that was partially occupied by prisoners in cells). Also note all the benches in the holding cell.

I regretted turning off my stream of inmates. Everything was too controllable and easy. Therefore: I'm restarting with a new prison tomorrow.

I didn't make enough effort reporting events with pictures beyond day 2. I will do a better job next time.

So yes: I'm restarting tomorrow. I'll probably go with a similar prison layout that I did this time, and I'll pace my progress better (more pictures, less playtime per day). Any suggestions?

Crime Unit Storyline:

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I on the other hand got far too carried away and went through 9 days, barely taking any screenshots.

Day 1 was rather uneventful, I built a holding cell and an office and some other jazz, no big deal.
Day 2 however, I learned that my guards are completely incompetent, as three prisoners ran away.
Somewhere along the way the prison instituted its zero tolerance policy on being a pain in the ass. All offenses are to be punished by a full day of solitary, which can stack. Before long, most inmates were in solitary.
After vastly exceeding capacity and giving zero shits, a huge riot occurred in the canteen, leaving the foreman dead and numerous prisoners and guards wounded. Riot police were called in with EMTs to treat the wounded. Unfortunately, the individual who shanked the foreman could be identified for execution.
Around Day 6, the prison had its first bangup and shakedown, finding numerous contraband items and sparking several inmates to lash out at the guards, though no one was seriously injured.
Day 7 construction began on a maximum security facility, along with the recruitment of four armed guards and four K-9 guards.
Day 9 Saw another bangup and shakedown, but this time the much larger and much more hardened population resisted much more heavily. Numerous prisoners and guards were injured, many being beaten unconscious. Doctors saved several lives that day and that night, as the resistance continued for quite some time. The number of inmates pulling lethal weapons lead to the authorization of guards to use lethal force, executing three inmates, one of which had killed a doctor who had just saved his life, twice, while a snitch was unfortunately shanked in the beginning of the bangup. A fourth prisoner miraculously survived the shotgun blast he suffered. ORder was finally restored and the offending inmates who had not been made examples of were thrown into solitary for several days to come.

The prison looked like this in the end.

Like Walrus, may potentially restart now that I have a better idea of what I'm doing. Especially since I made no record of so much of it. I originally intended to play like, long enough to get my first shipment of prisoners. Then I started executing prisoners via shotgun to the face.


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Both of us played way longer than we had planned to. FD, I hope you don't run into the horrendous difficulty in building extra rooms and foundation in already made buildings that I did.
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Staff member
This is a fantastic game, I have had it for a while myself but haven't been playing too much lately. I had an ex-cop that was in protective custody and to keep anybody in P.C safe I put them on a nocturnal schedule. The only time they get to interact with other prisoners is very early in the morning and very late at night.


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It's currently on a 66% off steam sale (~$10.50) ending today. It doesn't go on sale often, so I recommend figuring out if you want to buy it today.

Don't really feel like I have enough experience with it to recommend it. I don't regret the purchase, though. Last night I stayed up until around 6 am doing work and watching 5 of the alpha update videos for some of the most recent patches (each ~20-40 minutes long) to gain a better understanding of game mechanics.


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(I kindly put all the images in spoiler tags for the benefit of those with bad internet)

And so it begins.

Punishment Unit was commissioned by an anonymous benefactor, with a simple directive. Enact justice. Before this directive can be met, a basic foundation must be laid.

With offices for necessary staff and a rudimentary holding cell with primarily bare necessities, Punishment was ready for its first inmates. A yard was added only to fulfill the terms of a large grant offered to Punishment Unit, not for the benefit of the prisoners. However, given that such a yard may provide the prisoners opportunities to... punish each other for their crimes, the prisoners were allowed to make use of it. While attention was directed elsewhere, the first attempt at such "punishment" was made outside the canteen, resulting in a single casualty.

Whereas these individuals are mere drains on society, any attempts to harm any other will be met with force, and no guard shall be scolded for "brutality" in the defense of himself or others. This prisoner will be recorded as the first execution of Punishment Unit, for an act of violence towards others.

Meanwhile, construction began on the true purpose of Punishment Unit. Inescapable maxsec criminal justice. This began with the construction of the cell block.

After some consultation with Security Chief Wasser and Warden Bartun, we agreed that the cause of the "incident" resulting in execution should be determined. During this process, we uncovered a peculiar individual.

Bjomolf's dog like tendencies have begun to bother the guards, so he will be moved to maxsec with less easily perturbed guards in the coming days. Meanwhile, basic security cell blocks were being expanded to later serve as a home for prisoners that have begun to repay their debt to society through aiding Punishment Unit. Before long, these cell blocks and the first maxsec cell block had been finished.


Staff member
I have some screenshots of my own prison from after the recent update. In the style of the thread I'll make up some narrative.

The Mach Maximum Security Reformation Penitentiary was created from the onset to house some of the most dangerous criminals for the rest of their time on this realm of existence. However, in order to certify that the it was capable for maximum security and to allow the facility to operate while it tightened security minimum and normal security inmates were brought in to check for design oversights.

Stage 1 of the facility near completion.

The difference in inmates did present some security threats on behalf of the other inmates. Due to the nature of a inmate's crimes and the level of interaction allowed between different security level inmates, several inmates were singled out and targeted. While the MMSRP doesn't much care if a bunch of convicted felons die, it does present a threat to staff and the grants we receive for lack of an incident and as such we cannot allow such behavior. Therefore, we have several inmates placed in protective custody in which they maintain a nocturnal schedule to prevent contact with any dangers to their health and our grants.

Gareth Porter was a minimum security ex-cop.

We are happy to announce that MMSRP has come a long way in staff accommodation and security. Our offices are always locked and require guard escort in order to reach any staff who do not need direct contact with the prisoners. We would also like to announce that our facilities Taser Certification Pass Rate (TCPR) is at 97%. Let's see how long your riot will last now.


The staff offices remain locked away for their safety. The Armory also is locked behind the heaviest doors available which can only be opened remotely from the security office.

So, where do we go from here? MMSRP would like to remove the possibility for any escape and reduce the chance of any staff being harmed. As such, our road plan for the future is to slowly build a small army of armed guards to be able to quickly "eliminate" any threats.


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Day 0: Resignation, A New Enterprise, Crime

I, W. Man, hereby resign from the Mayor position. This decision is unrelated to the recent joke-election-where-Tirin-won shenanigans (those were hilarious, by the way). No, this is because I am moving on to a bigger enterprise. I, W. Man, will now operate the first and only Forum Prison.

I know all of you will miss my steadfast and sane control of this community, but I am only doing this to move against a bigger outside threat: Crime. With my prison, located a block away from General Discussion, I will keep internet trolls and murderers away from our community.

The name of the prison: Crime Unit. I did not choose this name, but I see it as a clear title that well categorizes every inmate that I will allow through these bars. This is a specialized prison, only accepting those prisoners who are convicted of the worst of felonies: Crime. If they are not convicted of crime, send them elsewhere; holding them will not help me protect us. When they leave, I hope for them to be changed, for them to not ever commit the notorious deed of crime again.


Day 1 (Prison Construction) will be posted later tonight.


Staff member
So is this game worth the money?
Sorry for the late post, but if you're into management based games and it's on sale; then it's worth the money. Personally, at this point in development it's not worth full price to me. If it's your type of game, expect to binge play for the first day or so.


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Day 1: Construction, Beds and Toilets, A Concerning Buddy

Today, construction of Crime Unit began.

Design Philosophy:
Crime Unit uses the area by the road as a staff-only resort. Inside, the min. sec and med. sec areas operate within the same building with a shared shower and easy access to the yard. Max. Sec, however, gets its own separate area with individual cells.

After 24 hours of construction, Prisoners arrived. Some work was still under way, however.
Workers rush beds and toilets to the max security wing as prisoners arrive. At this time, the Warden determines that the Max wing's proximity to the min/med area and easy access to open space left of the courtyard concerns him. Walrus, on the other hand, giddily raves about how this fancy new prison might be even better than the fishbowl.

Prisoner Bios

Warden's Report: Buddy Briggs seems a dangerous choice for minimal security, but overall I'm happy with this group. It's good to see no maximum security prisoners; this gives time to relocate the max. sec. wing today if doing so seems necessary. For starters, though: Buddy Big is going in max. all by himself.

Hopefully Walrus will approve my request for lighting in my office soon. Normally I have full design control, but he gets a say when he's adamant about something, and he's adamant about this for some reason.
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Note: I'm now experimenting with the idea of including the words about the picture in each spoiler. Therefore: Consider each spoiler to be a chapter.

Day 2: Lunch Buddies, Psychology, Troubling Roach

Ah. first batch of prisoners; toilets and beds dancing across the grounds. What a wondrous start of the day! -Walrus

Warden Report: I am still terrified of Briggs. Thus he is now alone in maximum security. I've scheduled his time to minimize contact with other prisoners so as to avoid another 17-man murder spree. I've also taken the same sort of measures to differentiate the min. security prisoners from the med. security ones.

...Why are these people eating together?!?!?!

Oh. My secretary must have read something wrong. Fixing that regime error immediately.

Walrus Report: Mr. Warden told me to pretend he has a secretary. I agree! The appearance of him having one is of the utmost importance! I'm hoping to convince one of the prisoners to wear a secretary disguise. Hey! One of them is named Buddy! He must be a nice guy! Perfect!
Warden Report:

Warden Report: I've determined that Walrus needs a Psychologist and have hired accordingly. Turns out that this guy has some other uses, though. He's helping me get a better understanding of my prisoners and their needs, telling me I can manipulate them to complacency by using this tool he likes to call "kindness." He's got all these "Programs" he wants me to run, like this one:

I like to call his area the "Kindness Complex." It's got his Office, a Visitation center (built earlier for some delicious grant money), and that infirmary for the drug thing. It looks like the joint might be a problem later, though. I'm going to keep an eye on him.

Psychologist Report: The Warden partially understands the word "Kindness." He does not understand the word "Reform."

Walrus Report: I made a new friend today!

Crime Unit established a Common Room to attain grant money. To create a path for workers to build in this area without creating a hole leading directly from the main cell block to the unsecured southern border, a strategic hole was placed in a fence far from the prisoners' normal walking habits.

Warden Report: I don't understand...As soon as I created this hole, I ordered workers to install a temporary staff door in its location. In the time it took them to install it, three prisoners, surrounded by guards, not even in sight of this vulnerability, attempted to escape and were immediately thwarted. My guards are injured. Walrus is heartbroken. The Government's reduced our funding...why?

Min. Sec. Prisoner Ian Roach (Dangerous Driving conviction; Prisoner closest to the end of his sentence) ran through the vulnerability and nearly escaped while my guards were distracted. Future protocol: Build new outer walls before creating any outer holes.

Look! The protocol is in action. Everything is good. I am a competent Warden that deserves a pay-raise.

Walrus Report: Why would my prisoners want to leave this place? It's so wonderful! My Buddy...he tried to leave me before I could get a chance to talk to him about the secretary plan!..he didn't injure any of my guards, though, unlike those other 3 criminals. He's such a swell guy. I'll try and talk to him tomorrow.

In Min. Sec, James Gall eats dinner on a bench.

When he finds that no bed awaits him, he demands clean clothing. His bed is constructed shortly afterward, and the Psychologist arranges the establishment of a laundry room to meet his...more pressing concern.

Warden Report: This may be the most troubling prisoner yet.
Accountant Report: $15,000! We've completed the bulk of today's construction plans and are floating in a very comfortable level of cash thanks to some very lucrative grants. Now is a great time to think expansion: Expanded workforce; implemention of further infrastructure for the psychologist's reform programs; the creation of a new and better-located cell block for max. security.

All gone. Walrus saw his cash reserve, saw the word "Investment," and impulsively blew everything on these future payouts. We began work on a laundry room earlier to please Gall. The laundry machine costs $1000. We can not afford to finish the job, yet alone deal with the incoming new prisoners. I'm taking a bank loan and researching a way out of this mess. We need a third grant.

New prisoners arrive at Crime Unit accompanied by a pedestrian escort, Ian Roach's family.

Warden Report: Roach is a problem. Nearly escaping. Demanding laundry services we can't afford. I worry that this visitation will merely lead to another escape attempt.

Warden Report: More Max Sec. Prisoners. Max. Sec remains unmoved. We can't afford to fix the security oversight right now.
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These update rules are now in play for myself and Firedemon. Recon, if you want to continue posting Prison Architect shenanigans here, I recommend that you use these rules as a guide.

[MachEnt] I: Hope Rides Alone: I am setting the following restrictions on myself:
[MachEnt] I: Hope Rides Alone: 1) I will never play more than one in-game day of Prison Architect a day
[MachEnt] I: Hope Rides Alone: 2) I will never play a new day of Prison Architect before writing the submission for the day prior
[MachEnt] I: Hope Rides Alone: 3) I will always post at least one submission a week
[MachEnt] I: Hope Rides Alone: Reason for these restrictions: I don't want Prison Architect to consume too much of my time, and having the one post a week minimum makes it easy for me to create a backlog if I want to
◄{MAKRL}► Genericusername562: I like these rules and will attempt to abide by them as well. Rule 1 may prove difficult at times.

Tomorrow: I will work more on completing the Day 2 update. I may or may not finish the update and play some Day 3, but I do not plan to post a Day 3 update. At maximum, I'll have Day 3 posted ~165 hours from now.
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Several Maxsec inmates began to lash out in protest of their punishment. Guards responded accordingly with beatings.

Meanwhile, construction began on the next part of the maxsec facility. Additional cells are to be constructed, with a canteen directly attached to the cellblock, so that inmates have no chance to run for freedom when taken to eat.

As construction continued, review of the inmates files continued. This particular individual has shown great incompetence and should not be a security threat.

Kessler however may just be lazy, therefore he will be upgraded to Normsec.

This individual was found in Normsec and immediately upgraded to Maxsec. Chief Wasser is currently flipping out at whoever labeled him as such. When proper facilities are ready, he will be placed in SuperMaxsec.

Chief Wasser began to grow even angrier indeed when he discovered Adolf, as this individual needed to be moved to Minsec immediately.

With the improvements to the Maxsec facility finally finished, a shakedown began to ensure prisoners had no items that might give them hope or comfort.

Construction now begins on a new wing.

With the day's business out of the way, I now turn my attention to news of a pathetic excuse for a prison built elsewhere, Crime Unit. Crime Unit boasts an outstanding record of zero deaths and zero punishment. Drains on society go there to relax and plan their next move, while hard working people wait on them hand and foot. Sickening. Absolutely sickening. Crime Unit is itself a crime against society.

-The Overlord, Punishment Unit


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Coming back with another update.

Day 3: Janitors, Shower Buddies, Bleach

Accountant Report: Started a Prison Maintenance Grant. We're back to holding a decent quantity of cash. These janitors the grant requires will help to clean up the Prisoners' showers. I didn't really think having the prisoners live in a mess of filth was a problem, though. They created the mess in their cell blocks, so they should deal with it. I'm just hiring these janitors for the grant money.

Chief Report: Us guards have been actively littering throughout the cell blocks while on patrol to avoid walking to trashcans. It's good to see the evidence cleaned up.

Warden Report: I hate seeing my different security groups getting close to each other. I segregated them for a reason.

Don't eat with the enemy!

This is an unacceptable use of min. sec. Free Time!

Chief Report: Observation of our Janitors' cleaning facility revealed some highly dangerous substances.

Min. Security prisoner Leander "Shambles" Hambley has been helping the Janitors operate this facility as a part of one of the Psychologists' reform programs. We believe he may have snorted some bleach.

Us guards are doing our best to investigate the issue. Hambley is being cared for in the newly built Infirmary that has been added to the Psychologists' reform complex. We have gotten approved a grant request for increased security funding so we can prevent such a travesty from ever happening again.

UPDATE: It happened again.
On the morning of the 4th day, 8 new prisoners arrived at Crime Unit.

Warden Report: Two cop fighters, some known reputations, and someone who is apparently Ian Roach's African American brother. Ian's brother has some sort of reputation to his name, but we could not identify it. I'm telling the Chief. We're going to want to find out what that reputation is. I'll have him take Ian in for questioning.
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