From Cell to Comfort: The Ultimate Prison Bed Buying Guide


Choosing the right prison bed is an important decision when outfitting a cell or detention facility. The bed will probably be used nearly round-the-clock, so durability and comfort are key factors. This buying guide covers the main types of prison beds available and provides tips for selecting the best option for your needs and budget.

While many people might feel prison beds, such as those offered at, shouldn’t be comfortable, they must remember those who are incarcerated are humans as well. They deserve somewhere comfortable to sleep at night. Furthermore, a lack of sleep can lead to health issues.

The immune system suffers without sleep, reducing a person’s ability to fight off infections and illness, which can then spread quickly throughout the facility. Overall, skimping on sleep leaves a person feeling tired, moody, and functioning at less than their best. Making sleep a priority is crucial for staying healthy, sharp, and performing at a peak each day.

Steel Prison Beds


Steel beds are the most common choice for prisons and jails. They offer durability to withstand constant use. Steel frames come in various thicknesses and weights, with heavier gauges recommended for maximum sturdiness. Look for all-welded joints rather than nuts and bolts that can loosen over time. Powder coating offers a protective and sanitary finish.

Steel beds can be outfitted with a variety of sleeping surfaces. Polyurethane or vinyl-covered foam mattresses are waterproof, easy to clean, and prevent mattress stuffing from being used for contraband. To increase tamper resistance, some facilities opt for concrete platforms topped with mattresses instead of traditional box spring supports.

If choosing steel beds, be sure to select models with rounded corners and no exposed hardware to prevent injury or use as weapons. Anchor points for restraining inmates should be hidden or flushed with the frame. Most steel prison beds comply with industry standards for strength and safety.

Stainless Steel Beds

For the most secure and indestructible option, stainless steel beds are worth the higher price tag. The non-corrosive solid steel construction prevents rusting and withstands constant cleaning with harsh chemicals. Stainless steel beds are virtually vandal-proof and often used in high-security facilities.

Seamless one-piece construction creates an impenetrable sleeping surface with no hiding places for contraband. For maximum tamper resistance, choose models with security decking welded to the frame rather than removable decks. As with other steel beds, focus on comfort and safety by selecting rounded corners and secure anchoring points.

Wood Prison Beds


Although less common in modern facilities, wood remains a practical and affordable option for low-risk inmates. Hardwoods like maple and oak stand up well to heavy use. Select high-quality plywood over particle board, which can break down more quickly. Moisture-resistant finishes help wood beds maintain integrity in damp environments.

Wooden bunk beds provide space-efficient housing but have more connection points that could potentially fail. Pay close attention to construction quality. As with other prison bed types, choose models with secure restraint points and rounded corners for safety. Foam mattresses typically top wooden sleeping platforms.

Concrete Prison Beds

Concrete beds offer enhanced security and fireproofing. Pre-cast solid concrete units are extremely heavy, tamper-proof, and easy to clean. Some facilities may choose to pour concrete platforms as part of the original jail construction. While this is the most secure option, it lacks versatility if cell usage needs change.

Concrete’s hard surface lacks comfort, so mattresses are a must. Some concrete beds have surfaces pre-formed with contours to improve comfort. Fire-retardant mattresses and platform pads are recommended. Concrete’s weight and permanence also limit flexibility in moving or reconfiguring beds. These beds are best suited for high-security units housing the most dangerous inmates.

Bunk vs Single Beds


When considering bunk beds versus single beds, there are several factors to weigh. Bunk beds allow more inmates to be housed in a small cell, maximizing limited space. However, bunk beds have some drawbacks.

There is an increased fall risk with inmates climbing up and down from the upper bunk. Bunk beds also have more connection points and hardware between the two levels that could potentially fail or break over time. The upper bunk can be used by inmates to more easily hide contraband out of sight. It is harder for staff to monitor two inmates housed at different levels in the same bunk bed. Restraining inmates is also more challenging when they are housed in an upper bunk.

If space allows, single beds may be preferable in terms of visibility and safety for both inmates and staff. Some facilities try to get the space efficiency of bunks by using stacked single beds, with one bed mounted on an elevated frame above the other. This provides two levels but with separate and distinct sleeping surfaces. The choice between bunks versus single beds depends on cell dimensions, regulations, and the overall security level of the facility. The goal is to maximize safety and monitoring capability within the physical constraints of each cell.

Key Buying Considerations

No matter what type of prison bed you choose, keep these key factors in mind.

  • Durability: Withstands constant use and cleaning without failing
  • Tamper-resistant: Features like seamless construction and secure anchoring
  • Comfort: Mattress quality affects restfulness and inmate health
  • Safety: Rounded corners, no exposed hardware, and support for restraints
  • Cost: Budget determines options; consider long-term value over the lowest price

Prisoner Input


While safety and security must be top priorities in a correctional facility, allowing inmates some controlled input into minor furnishings like bedspreads can foster dignity and personal responsibility. Simple choices over small comforts may improve morale and behavior without sacrificing order. However, input should have limits and oversight to prevent abuses. Overall, as long as larger facility operations and restrictions are maintained, small inmate input into limited furnishings seems reasonable and even beneficial, both for humane conditions and for encouraging personal growth.

Carefully evaluating the options using these criteria will help you select high-quality Murphy beds tailored to the security level of the facility. Investing in the right beds, such as Murphy beds, saves money over time and improves safety for both inmates and staff. Focusing on prudent construction, security features, comfort, and compliance ensures the purchase decision won’t be overturned.