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.
- Beechers Blue – induction wing and RCU
- Beechers Green – induction wing and RCU
- Canal Green and Blue – general accommodation
- Foinavon Blue – family unit
- Foinavon Green – general accommodation
- Foinavon Red – unit for enhanced level prisoners
- Furlong Green – substance misuse recovery unit
- Furlong Red – induction wing, RCU and detoxification unit
- Melling Blue – vulnerable prisoner accommodation
- Melling Brown – vulnerable prisoner accommodation, induction wing and reverse cohort unit (RCU)
- Reynoldstown Brown and Blue – general accommodation
- Valentines Red and Green – general accommodation