Penal institutions and the dialogue with the city: (lack of) policies for implementation of prison facilities in urban areas

Abstract This paper discusses the spatial relationship between the penal space and the city. The study focused on the case of Arapiraca (city of Alagoas), where the proximity between a penitentiary and a university campus created a delicate scenario of conflicting relationships. The methodology is based on documental analysis and semi-structured interviews with administrators. We highlight the need for investigations about the apparent lack of confrontation by the State regarding the political and interdisciplinary integration of prisons in cities, taking as parameters the complexity of borders that exist between a prison institution and the urban space. We show spatial relationships between having the prison as a sign of the city's expansion and the exercise of power, where the physical boundaries of prisons are intended to promote an invisibility and annihilation effect toward the inmates. In the case of Arapiraca, the proximity between the prison and a University building has created a delicate and complex scenario of conflicting relationships. We demonstrate the importance of aggregating principles of security to urban planning and working to improve existing spaces. In addition, it is important to think about integrating spatial and social initiatives to stand up to the challenge of enhancing the urban security.