When you start in sandbox mode, you're greeted with a large empty space and left to fend for yourself.

What are the bare minimum constructions that are absolutely mandatory to get your prison up to par before the first batch of 8 prisoners arrives one day later?

  • what kind of game is this, sounds very interesting
    – l I
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 16:44
  • @yx. It's a prison simulation game, kind of in the same vein as Dwarf Fortress. It just entered public alpha yesterday. prison-architect.com Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 17:49

2 Answers 2


One of the grants you can get right at the beginning is titled "Contract: Basic Detention Center". This grant gives you $40,000, and adds a few items to your checklist. These items are:

  • Build a holding cell
  • Build a shower
  • Build a yard
  • Build a kitchen
  • Build a canteen
  • Hire at least two guards
  • Hire at least two chefs

Other than two guards and two chefs, that sounds like the absolute minimum required to incarcerate and detain your first batch of prisoners.

  • 2
    I would probably say the guards and chefs are mandatory too after a few failed prison attempts. Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 19:07

fbueckert's answer is good but does not address all of the prisoner's needs, which should be considered as the real bare minimum for a functioning prison, since fulfilling needs are what prevents riots and escape attempts.

  • Bladder,Bowel,Sleep,comfort - a cell/holding cell with a toilet, bench, bed
  • Food - canteen, kitchen
  • Hygiene - shower
  • Clothing - laundry, 3x office (for laundry)
  • Exercise,recreation, family - yard, common area with lifting weights, phones, TVs
  • Defence,Freedom - guards

So to sum it up, you will need overall

  • Holding cell
    • Bench
    • Bed
    • Toilet
  • Canteen
  • Kitchen
  • Chefs
  • Shower
  • Laundry
  • 3x Office
    • Warden
    • Chief of security
    • Foreman
  • Common room
    • Telephone
    • TV
  • Yard
    • Exercise equipment
  • Guards
  • 1
    It depends on how you define "functioning". I define it differently than you do, and that's fine.
    – Frank
    Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 15:14

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