Prison Architect: How-to guide to satisfying your inmates’ needs

A guide to your inmates' needs and how you can deal with them.

A guide to your inmates' needs and how you can deal with them.
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You don’t have to keep your inmates happy in Prison Architect, but you do have to keep them sated enough that they don’t decide to riot. This is where needs come in, and it’s exactly why keeping on top of them is so important.

You can see the intensity of your prison’s overall needs at the top of the UI at all times. You can see individual prisoner needs on mouseover.

This gives you an idea of how your prisoners are feeling, but you need to go into the Needs tab under Reports to get the details.

These 18 needs you see under the Needs tab are the key to a functional and riot-free prison. Let’s take a look at what they are, how you can satisfy them, and the regime periods they are most easily and often satisfied during.


What it means: Your inmates need to use the restroom.

How to satisfy bladder: If your inmates’ bladder need is mostly orange or worse regularly, you need to add more toilets to your prison. Ensure you have a few toilets in each holding cell, that your plumbing is connected to your toilets, and add a few to your showers. Toilets do not need to be inside cells to be used.

Regime periods: Bladder can be satisfied most easily during shower periods if you have toilets in your showers, free time, and sleep periods.


What it means: Your inmates need to use the restroom.

How to satisfy bowels: Dealing with bowels is just the same as dealing with bladder. Increase the amount of toilets in your prison and pay special attention to the number of toilets in your showers and holding cells.

Regime periods: Bowels can be satisfied during free time, shower periods if there are toilets in your showers, and sleep times.


What it means: Your inmates are tired.

How to satisfy sleep: There are two instances where sleep becomes an issue. The first is when you don’t have enough beds for all your inmates, which means you need to build more cells or a holding cell. The second is when they do not have enough scheduled sleep time, in which case add another sleep hour in their regimes.

Regime periods: The sleep need is satisfied, most fittingly, during the sleep period.


What it means: Your inmates are either hungry or are not getting enough to eat.

How to satisfy food: Dealing with food issues can be really simple, but it can also be a big pain. If you want all the nitty gritty on it, which I recommend you do, check out my article where I go into detail on meeting inmate food needs and playing with your food distribution.

Usually, the cause of a spike in food needs is simply that your inmates have woken up, but if it’s a persistent problem, you will have to add more kitchen and canteen equipment and maybe even another kitchen and canteen. You can also adjust which canteens service which cells under the Logistics tab.

Your inmates also may not be able to get into your canteens in time to eat, if your canteens are continually overcrowded at the doors. In these instances, add another large jail door to your canteen.

Lastly, you could also add more mealtimes in the regime or make your current ones an hour longer.

Regime periods: The food need is satisfied during eating periods.


What it means: Safety indicates how safe your inmates feel in your prison. Their safety is affected by other prisoners and your guard staff.

How to satisfy safety: This is easily fixed by dispatching more guards. Regular guard staff lower your inmates’ safety need, while armored guards increase the need. This makes sense, considering your regular guards aren’t carrying around guns, while your armored guards are.

Hire more guards and increase their patrols. If you have a large number of armored guards and your inmates’ overall safety need is high, fire some armored guards as well.

Regime periods: The safety need will adjust during any regime period based on the guards you have nearby.


What it means: Your inmates are dirty and need a good shower.

How to satisfy hygiene: Your inmates need to take at least one shower a day, and that might be hard even with enough shower facilities around your prison.

The easiest method to decrease your inmates’ shower need is to add simply more shower heads in your shower rooms, but you can also take it a step further and add shower heads (and drains) in medium to large-size cells and holding cells. This way inmates will be able to shower during sleep periods, on top of free and shower times.

Shower doorways can also get crowded to the point inmates will be blocked from the room. In these cases, add a new doorway to the room.

Regime periods: If you only have shower heads in your shower rooms, then your inmates will be able to satisfy their hygiene need during shower and free time periods. If you have shower heads in cells and holding cells, they will also be able to shower during sleep periods.


What it means: Your inmates need to get some exercise.

How to satisfy exercise: Even the fattest inmate needs to exercise, which is why you should have at least one yard designated in your prison. Each yard needs to have at least a few workout machines to regularly keep inmates’ exercise need low. If your need is high, build more exercise machines.

Interestingly, if you have a yard that is large enough and is not densely packed during yard periods, your inmates will also jog around the yard for exercise.

Regime periods: The exercise need is most easily satisfied during yard periods, but can be satisfied any period inmates have access to a weights bench.


What it means: Your inmates want to talk to or see their family.

How to satisfy family: You’d probably want to talk to your loved ones while in prison too — you need more phone booths and visitor tables in visitation areas.

Phone booths can be placed in common rooms for ease of access during free time, and in yards for yard periods. Build more in either area to satisfy the need.

Regime periods: The family need can be satisfied most easily during free time and when an inmate gets a visitor. If an inmate can talk on the phone, their family need will go down.


What it means: Your inmates need some time to relax and enjoy themselves somewhat.

How to satisfy recreation: Recreation is satisfied by giving your inmates more televisions, radios, and pool tables to interact with during free time. Often this need gets too high if you simply haven’t built enough of them in your common rooms. You could add some TVs and radios to some inmates’ cells or holding cells to improve their recreation need as well.

Regime periods: Recreation is most easily satisfied during free time, but can be satisfied during sleeping periods if inmates have TVs or radios in their rooms.


What it means: Your inmates want to sit or lie down.

How to satisfy comfort: You can lower your inmates comfort need by adding more benches to holding cells, canteens, and yards. It’s most easily done in yards if you’re low on space. Uncomfortable inmates will automatically sit. Comfort will also be satisfied when your inmates sleep.

Regime periods: Any period where your inmates have access to a bench can relieve their comfort need. This is most easily done during yard, free time, and eating periods.


What it means: Your inmates are disgusted with the area they’re in because it’s dirty.

How to satisfy environment: If you don’t have enough janitors, your prison is going to get pretty disgusting fast. You can hire more janitors to clean up after your inmates or build a new cleaning cupboard and hire inmates to clean the prison.

Regime periods: The environment need can be satisfied during any period, as long as their surroundings are cleaned.


What it means: There are too many inmates in the same holding cell together, or they are in a holding cell with other inmates for too long.

How to satisfy privacy: This is a big issue in prisons that use several holding cells, especially those that use holding cells as regular housing. All you can do to lower the privacy need is give your inmates some time to themselves. This means less time in their holding cells with other inmates doing other tasks, or finally building a host of individual cells instead of keeping multiple sets of inmates in large holding cells.

Regime periods: Any period but sleeping can relieve your inmates’ privacy needs. Free periods can make the need worse if there are not enough recreational items like televisions in common rooms for inmates to use during their time off.


What it means: Your inmates have been holed up in their cells for too long, or they have been punished or under lockdown.

How to satisfy freedom: Simply give your inmates for free time to wander the prison.

Regime periods: Free time is the only period where the freedom need will subside.


What it means: Your inmates need clean uniforms.

How to satisfy clothing: If your clothing need is getting high, you need to figure out how to get more laundry done. You can hire more inmates in your current laundry rooms if they’re not full or even hire more janitors, but the most effective way to curb this need is to build a new laundry room and allow inmates to work there.

Make sure you look at laundry distribution under Logistics and adjust as needed if the majority of your laundry is being handled by a single laundry room.

Regime periods: The clothing need can be satisfied during any period as long as dirty clothes are washed and new uniforms are taken to their cells.


What it means: Your inmates are struggling with drug addiction.

How to satisfy drugs: The drugs need and the alcohol need both function similarly: neither can be directly lowered.

Your inmates’ drug need can only be lowered via the Pharmacological Treatment of Drug Addiction program in your Reports. Activate the program and make sure your clinic is ready to slowly lower this need. The drugs need will always be persistent, but it can be curbed.

Regime periods: Inmates can go through the Pharmacological Treatment of Drug Addiction program during work periods. Make sure are least one of your inmate security levels is working during the scheduled class period.


What it means: Your inmates are struggling with alcohol addiction.

How to satisfy alcohol: Much like the drugs need, the alcohol need requires a program to curb it. As with drugs, the alcohol need can never be completely satisfied.

You need to enable the Alcoholics Group Therapy program in your Reports, which requires a psychologist, a common room with chairs, and two scheduled work hours to participate in.

Regime periods: Inmates can go through the Alcoholics Group Therapy program during work periods.


What it means: Your inmates want the comfort of religion.

How to satisfy spirituality: You must have a chapel built, with enough pews and praying mats, to keep inmates’ spirituality need relatively low. It’s a good idea to have a large enough of a chapel to fit several pews and praying mats for inmates to use.

You can further lower your inmates’ spirituality need by enabling and scheduling the Spiritual Guidance program in Reports.

Regime periods: Inmates can visit the chapel and pray during free time. If you are running the Spiritual Guidance program, inmates will partake during work hours.


What it means: Your inmates want to read some books.

How to satisfy literacy: A library is exactly what you need — but first you need someone to work in the library. No inmates will use the library until you have someone complete the Foundation Education Program. You must assign inmates to the job in Logistics.

Once you have a functional library, inmates will visit during their free time to read a book to satisfy this need. Add more bookshelves or build a new library if your current one is not meeting your inmates’ needs.

Regime periods: Literacy is lowered during free time, as it is the only time inmates can visit the library.

About the author

Ashley Shankle

Ashley's been with GameSkinny since the start, and is a certified loot goblin. Has a crippling Darktide problem, 500 hours on only Ogryn (hidden level over 300). Currently playing Darktide, GTFO, RoRR, Palworld, and Immortal Life.