History of Penitentaries

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History of Penitentiaries

Jessica Murillo
University of Phoenix- Criminal Justice
CJA/234 Intro to Corrections

Philip Terhaar
January 21, 2012

The true identity of the world’s first prison or penitentiary may remain unknown, however it is known that at some point incarceration became a penalty for crimes. It appears that during the Middle Ages “punitive punishment” was introduced by Europe, by their Christian Church. By the end of the eighteenth century, the concept of imprisonment as punishment for crime was in full effect in the United States. America officially introduced the concept of incarceration as a punishment for crime around 1790, which was the penitentiary era. In 1790 the Pennsylvania Quakers converted Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Jail into a penitentiary. The Quakers saw incarceration as an opportunity for penance and they believed prisons were places in which offenders might make amends with society and accept responsibility for their misdeeds. The philosophy of imprisonment began by the Quakers with the basic elements of rehabilitation and deterrence, which have been carried on to present day. Through this penitentiary, the Quakers developed the “Pennsylvania System”. Inmates of the Philadelphia Penitentiary were expected to wrestle alone with the evils they withhold. Rehabilitation was anticipated and a study of the Bible was strongly encouraged. Solitary confinement was the rule, and the penitentiary was architecturally designed to minimize the contact between inmates and between inmates and staff. Exercise was allowed in small high-walled yards attached to each cell. Eventually, after time handicrafts were introduced into the prison setting, allowing prisoners to work in their cells. Overall the Pennsylvania System was a form of imprisonment developed as an alternative to corporal punishments. This style of imprisonment was made by the use of solitary confinement and encouraged rehabilitation. The Pennsylvania System was...
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