Last October the prisons minister told a Parliamentary committee that Victorian-era prisons were still needed as the number of offenders rises.
This announcement suggested that HMP Dartmoor, which was put on a 10-year notice of closure in 2013, would still be put to good use in the future. However, the Ministry of Justice countered minister Lucy Frazer's announcement, saying it did not mean a reprieve for Dartmoor and that it would still face closure in 2023.
The confirmation of the closure of the jail, which provides employment in the Princetown area and also attracts spending by tourists, sent a cold chill around the region and councillors said its demise could be a blow to the local economy. According to the Prison Officers' Association, it has 169 members at the moorland jail, with many of them living nearby with their families.
The Category C prison is actually owned by the Duchy of Cornwall - along with 67,460 acres of Dartmoor - and is merely operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service. It is understood that if it is finally closed the building and land would effectively be returned to the Duchy to do with as it pleases.
So, what can you do with an old prison, originally built in 1806 to house Napoleon-era prisoners-of-war? Made mostly of granite from nearby quarries, it now can accommodate 640 men in single rooms across six wings.
No prison lasts forever, even ones as old as Dartmoor and across the globe some prisons have been given a new lease of life in the commercial sector.
Langholmen prison in Stockholm, Sweden was built 1724 and closed in 1975. The cells were converted into comfortable hotel rooms with all the basics you need for a fuss-free stay. According to website Hotels.com you can get a double-room at Langholmen Hotell for £86 a night. Meanwhile, you can get a similar prison-experience at the boutique hotel of Alcatraz Hotel in Kaiserslautern in Germany. With 56 room, suites and a conference centre the former prison has retained some of its original style with cell-inspired rooms bearing barred windows, original prison beds built by the former inmates and even a washbasin and toilet in each room. You do get wifi though.
Meanwhile over in Helsinki, Finland, the Hotel Katajanokka went from Helsinki County Prison to swanky hotel after five years of renovation. The prison closed down in 2002 and in May 2007 it reopened as a luxury pad. The main hallway and the building's exterior were protected, so you can still find elements of the prison as you wander through.
Meanwhile, over in Istanbul, Turkey, the neo-classic prison building was turned into the Four Seasons Sultanahmet. With chic and elegant rooms and suits with breathtaking views, staff on hand 24/7 to cater to your every need, landscaped gardens, opulent decors at a cost of £210 a night - who wouldn't mind getting banged up there?
For a cheaper deal you could head to Horsens, Denmark where the austere SleepIn Faengslet is situated in a prison's old sick ward - the last inmate left in 2006.
It's been renovated but the authenticity of prison life remains. With graffiti intact on the walls from past inhabitants and original working radios, each of the 22 rooms provide a unique experience. Some of the facilities of the old penitentiary – the prison workshops, the gathering hall, the gym – are available for rental for meetings, conferences or parties. Travelers can also take tours of the prison and check out the Prison Museum to learn more about the history. Prices start at around £60 a night.
Over in America you could try The Liberty in Boston. The Charles Street jail, which was once home to activist Malcolm X, is now a lush hotel.
The prison was known for its octagonal rotunda, to segregate prisoners by category of offences.
Nowadays the rotunda serves as the lobby of this seriously swanky institute with its large bedrooms, plush furniture and elegant decor.
As for entertainment? No need to sit bored in a cell - the hotel has two restaurants, four bars and even its own nightclub. Double rooms start from £152 a night.
The Ottawa Jail Hostel in Canada now serves as a cheap hostel that's ideal for those on a budget.
Guests can also get a tour of the building and learn a little more about the former residents and the prison's fascinating history. Dorms are available with cosy bunk beds - you don't have to share with a guy called Bubba - as well as individual rooms, all tucked away in the former cells which have been given a modern update. Prices start from £20 per night.
Clink 78 in London's King's Cross is a former former courthouse turned into a budget-friendly hostel which has all the basics you need for an overnight stay, whether you're looking to sleep in a large dorm room or want an individual 'cell' for yourself.
The hotel has an on-site kitchen, bar and reception, as well as laundry services and a small shop. Rooms start from £16.73 per night, based on two people sleeping in one of the dorm rooms.
In June 2018 plans were put forward to temporarily turn the former Portsmouth prison into a simulated military installation for gamers.
The Grade II listed building HMP Kingston had been a hot topic for Portsmouth City Council for years so when local firm UCAP Airsoft put forward the idea, it wasn't shot down in flames. Or BB pellets. The temporary plan came ahead of the development of the prison into 230 flats.
Airsoft is similar to paintball, but competitors shoot little plastic BB pellets at each other from replica guns which has advantages over paintball.For one thing, it doesn't leave such a mess.
In March 2019 Gloucester Prison was also viewed by UCAP Airsoft as a potential venue for matches. A number of events had already successfully been held at the Georgian-era building and more were set to follow. About 320 inmates were held at the jail until its closure in 2013.
The organisers' website offered: "Dark and light, multi level battle in a massive venue - breach between blocks, fight up the stairs, bounce from building to building. About the only time you actually want to be in a prison, with the bonus of just being able to walk out."
Fans of The Walking Dead will already be fully aware that when you can't use a city for your filming because all those pesky alive people keep getting into the shot, you can transfer to out-of-town locations, like empty fields, forests and - for some of the most dramatic episodes - a prison.
In fairness the prison in the smash-hit TV series was not a real prison. While some believed it was the West Georgia Correctional Facility, it was actually a set built at the Raleigh Studios in Atlanta.
The film Dead Men Walking - which you can probably watch on the Sci Fi Channel every so often - had a storyline where there is a zombie outbreak at a maximum security prison. It was filmed at Lincoln HJeights Jail in Los Angeles, California.
Not a zombie movie but the classic film, The Shawshank Redemption with Hollywood stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, was filmed at the Ohio State Reformatory.
As much as some people may think that being in prison is just one long party, with drugs aplenty and loud banging tunes, it isn't. Although it's undoubtedly true that for many prisoners, getting hold of drugs inside prison has long been easier than getting them outside.
However, one possible use for HMP Dartmoor could be as a party venue.
In 2018 plans were afoot to hold a rave at the former Bijlmer prison in Amsterdam during Amsterdam Dance Event. Sadly for the party people the event was cancelled due to safety concerns.
Promoters claimed that the cancellation came about because of issues raised during the license application process.
Prior to the cancellation the event was billed: "While once a sinister location, for three nights Audio Obscura is transforming the Bijlmerbajes into an environment of joy, inclusivity and love for electronic music".poll loading
Time is now running out for the building and spiralling maintenance costs are making it increasingly likely the aging prison will soon see its cell doors close for the last time.
If you have any suggestions of what it could become, we're sure the Duchy of Cornwall will be interested. Or you can email us at Plymouth Live on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com