Penitentiary Ideal and Models of American Prison
The penitentiary was supposed to be a place for humane punishment not the physical punishment that was imposed in those days. It was supposed to be a place the inmates asked for forgiveness for the sins they committed. They were supposed to reform from their old ways. The main goal was for the prison system to help the inmates find spiritual transformation that was associated with the medieval monastery. They wanted the inmates to find healing and spirituality. The difference between the eastern and auburn prisons were that one believed in complete solitary confinement and the other didn’t. The Eastern State Penitentiary believed that if the inmates were left alone they could think about the crimes they had committed and would ask for forgiveness. Inmates were required to work in their cells and would be allowed to workout outside alone for thirty minutes a day. They were not allowed to have contact with other inmates. When they were brought into the jail their heads were covered so that they couldn’t see where they were being taken. The Eastern Penitentiary was also roomier but more solitary. The cells were about ten feet by eight feet and the ceilings were about fifteen feet high. The plan was called The Quaker Plan. They used this method to hopefully reflect some penance and so that the inmates wouldn’t rub off on each other and get bad habits. Inmates were not allowed to have visitors or have contact with the guards. They worked and ate in their cells. In the Auburn prisons the cells were seven feet by three and a half feet and only seven feet high. The cells are stacked and they did not have outside access. Inmates at these prisons were allowed to have contact with each other. They worked, cleaned and ate together. They also had a silent system in place. In that system inmates were not allowed to talk to each other when they were together. The Auburn prison was such a success that New York went ahead and...
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