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60-61 | Justice, Incarceration & Design, Part 1 & 2

Deanna Van Buren is the co-founder of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces (DJDS), a studio that designs restorative justice centers and rejects the punitive approach used by a system focused on mass incarceration.

Raphael Sperry is an architect based in San Francisco who heads Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, a nonprofit group that advocates for socially responsible design.

60 | Justice, Incarceration & Design, Part 1
61 | Justice, Incarceration & Design, Part 2

Much of the architectural apparatus within our communities and our criminal justice system is organized around punitive models of justice – the belief once a crime has been committed, the offender must be removed from society and that confinement will act as a deterrent against future crimes. High rates of recidivism strongly suggest that this model has failed. 


Through DJDS and with the help and ideas from people who have been incarcerated, Deanna Van Buren is creating dynamic spaces that provide safe venues for dialogue, reconciliation, employment, job training, and social services to help keep people from entering the justice system in the first place. 

DJDS is inspired by the idea of ‘restorative justice’ – the philosophy that when a crime has been committed, our priorities should center on making amends and healing, rather than punishment. It works to end mass incarceration through place-based solutions that address its root causes: poverty, racism, unequal access to resources, and the criminal justice system itself. 


Raphael Sperry, now an Associate Principal at Arup in San Francisco, is the past President of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, a U.S.-based non-profit founded in 1981 dedicated to peace, environmental protection, and socially responsible development and design. ADPSR was first established to promote nuclear disarmament and correct the imbalances caused by military excesses overshadowing domestic needs. It now counts hundreds of members from across all design professions and remains a constant agitator for a more humane practice of design.  

In 2020, after years of petitioning by ADPSR, AIA (American Institute of Architects) added specific language to its code of ethics that would prohibit the design of torture chambers in U.S. prisons and around the world.


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for 2018 is "Alright With Me" by Reggie Young from his album "Young Street." The break music is "Truth Revealed" by Harry Gregson-Williams and Hans Zimmer from the album "Smilla's Sense of Snow."