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: Brook reintegration unit. A specialist unit for prisoners demoted to the basic regime, peer mentors and a small group of prisoners on the standard regime
- Beechers Green: vulnerable prisoner unit housing a mixture of prisoners
- Canal Blue: a mixture of prisoners.
- Canal Green: a mixture of prisoners
- Foinavon Blue: the family unit, linked with the visits group and the community engagement team, housing a mix of prisoners.
- Foinavon Green a mixture of prisoners
- Foinavon Red: unit for prisoners on the enhanced regime.
- Furlong Green: substance recovery unit.
- Furlong Red: first night centre for prisoners requiring substance detoxification or stabilisation.
- Melling Blue and Brown: vulnerable prisoner units for sex offenders
- Reynoldstown Blue: a second induction unit for prisoners completing the final stages of their induction
- Reynoldstown Brown: first night centre and induction unit. .
- Valentines Green a mixture of prisoners.
- Valentines Red a mixture of prisoners