Altcourse opened in December 1997 as a category A prison and restructured to a category B core local prison 4 years later. An extension to the prison was built in 2007.
There are various house blocks divided into individual units, each holding between 60 and 90 prisoners.
- Bechers: remand and short-term sentenced prisoners.
- Canal: medium to long-term sentenced prisoners on an enhanced regime.
- Furlong green: remand and short-term sentenced prisoners.
- Furlong red: drug stabilisation unit.
- Melling induction unit.
- Reynoldstown vulnerable prisoner unit.
- Valentines medium- to long-term sentenced prisoners working in industries.
- Foinavon red: mixture of prisoners taking part in vocational training.
- Foinavon green: prisoners over 50.
- Foinavon blue: mixture of prisoners taking part in vocational training