The Quiet Trend of Reimagining and Reusing Prisons and Jails After decades of scandals over horrible conditions, many states are reimagining prisons and jails and reusing those properties to benefit the community.

The quiet trend of reimagining and reusing prisons and jails

The quiet trend of reimagining and reusing prisons and jails

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Lorton Reformatory, a former prison, is now a residential community in Lorton, Virginia. (Photo by: Robert Knopes/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) Education Images/Education Images/Universal Image hide caption

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Education Images/Education Images/Universal Image

Lorton Reformatory, a former prison, is now a residential community in Lorton, Virginia. (Photo by: Robert Knopes/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Education Images/Education Images/Universal Image

By the time it closed in 2001, Lorton Reformatory, 20 miles south of Washington, DC, had become notorious -a violent, overcrowded nightmare. But after sitting empty for years, the site has been transformed into a residential and retail village - largely retaining the original prison structure. The guard tower now watches over a playground. The luxury apartments come with bars on the windows.

The development is part of a quiet trend across the nation of reimagining and reusing prisons and jails. But will repurposing prisons satisfy those who think incarceration doesn't work as well as those who want action on rising crime rates?

Host Michel Martin speaks with Nicole Porter, senior director of advocacy for The Sentencing Project, about her research on prison reuse and its impact on communities.

In participating regions, you'll also hear a local news segment to help you make sense of what's going on in your community.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Robert Baldwin III. It was edited by Jeanette Woods. Our executive producer is Natalie Winston.