I believe prisons should be designed to be deterrents to crime. Alcatraz was more like what prisons should be. I have never been to prison, but from what I hear, most prisons these days are resorts with all the amenities of a Hilton and more.
A prison should provide a place for criminals the opportunity to change and reform themselves. In order to really change, people need to be able to think clearly and at length about what they have done to get them into prison. In order to change, people also need to provide service to others. Community service.
Prisons should not provide any entertainment other than physical activity. No movies, no television, no music, no talk radio, nothing. Maybe books. However, not just any books, they should be good books, like the bible, or other literary classics. Books with good morals and uplifting stories.
Prisons should not be a burden on society. Prisons should provide many useful benefits to society, aside from just keeping criminals off the streets. A prison should be funded largely or entirely by the labor of the inmates. Prisoners should be doing useful labor. Like all of those jobs that people say Americans do not want to do. Make prisoners do them. Make them serve the country that they have transgressed against. Making roads, stamping license plates, building things. They should grow and harvest their own food. They should clean their own clothes.
Prison inmates should not be getting college degrees while they are in prison, unless they are paying for it with money they earn. A college degree is an excellent thing to get, but how are we helping society when law abiding citizens have a harder time getting money for a college degree than criminals?
Here are some links to information about a sheriff in Arizona and his idea of how prisons should be. I like his thinking.