Modern Day Prisons

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Modern Day Prisons
Patricia A. Farley

This paper explores compares and contrasts the Pennsylvania Correctional System and the Auburn Correctional system and explains why the Auburn Correctional system most closely explains our modern day prisons.

“In the early decades of the nineteenth century there arose two competing models of prison discipline in the United States; one was the “separate” or “solitary” system employed in Pennsylvania, and was kept as much as possible in total solitude. The prisoner would eat, sleep and labor in isolation in this single cell for the duration of the sentence. The competing model was the “silent” or “congregate” system developed in New York, and exemplified by the Auburn and Sing Sing penitentiaries. Here workers were assigned separate cells to sleep in, but ate meals and labored during the day together with other prisoners—but under a rule of complete silence rigidly enforced by guards.” The goal of both systems, separate and congregate, was the same: redemption of the offender through the well-ordered routine of the prison and both systems were supposed to rehabilitate the prisoners.

The implementation of the separate system (Pennsylvania) was isolation, penance, contemplation, labor, and silence, while the implementation of the congregate system (Auburn) was strict discipline, obedience, labor, and silence. The systems also differ in method and activity. The Separate System’s (Pennsylvania) method was that inmates were kept in their cells for eating, sleeping, and working; and their activity was Bible reading and working on crafts in the cell, while in the Auburn (Congregate System) the method consisted of inmates sleeping in their cells but coming together to eat and work in shops making goods to be sold by the state.

“Although the systems were different, both emphasized rehabilitation through a steady routine of labor. Eventually, however, the “separate system” and its associated concept of solitary...