Hong Kong Green Jail Ignites Firestorm

Hong Kong Green Jail Ignites Firestorm

Hong Kong's first jail designed to meet green building standards has ignited a firestorm over the perception that the government is putting the needs of prisoners over impoverished citizens.

The US $200 million facility sporting a green roof, solar panels, and enhanced indoor air quality, will house roughly 1,400 female inmates. It recently won a green building award, eventually leading to a critical newspaper editorial and public outrage, AFP reported.

"It just doesn't make sense to me," reader Jefference Tay wrote in a letter sent to the South China Morning Post, which ran an editorial with the headline: "Green prison shows failings in our priorities."

"I have been to several public housing estates in Hong Kong which have long, dark and airless corridors. Most of the units are extremely small," Tay wrote. "It is sad that the government has no long-term urban planning strategy."

According to AFP, Hong Kong, one of the world's wealthiest cities, also suffers from a residential property shortage, which has pushed housing prices well beyond the reach of many. As a result, multiple families often squeeze into tiny flats or set up what the newspaper called "cage homes" -- rented metal cages, big enough to store a mattress, pushed into aged tenement flats. 

A spokesman for the Hong Kong Architectural Services said the environmentally friendly features at the Lo Wu Correctional Institute cost less than 1 percent of the project's overall cost.