American Prison History

Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons, opened up the Eastern State Penitentiary, an experiment in correcting criminal behavior through solitary confinement.
Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons, opened up the Eastern State Penitentiary, an experiment in correcting criminal behavior through solitary confinement.

Charles Dickens said that the Quaker penitentiary was "cruel and wrong" and that "this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body."

American Quakers in 1790 'reformed' a section of th Philadelphia's Walnut Street Jail via solitary labor and a bible in order to make the prisonors become penitent.

Prison Nation

USA has the highest prison population in the world - more than China.The state with the highest adult AND children population is Nevada, the state that has legalized prostitution and gambling, insuring that Nevada will continue to pump out unemployable graduates from these schools of crime because a convicted felon suffers disenfranchisement of various civil rights including voting rights.

Is America's justice system criminal?

Why has Arizona's increased the Department of Corrections budget - while every other single other government service were slashed or ended? It's because the prisons will be full of imported convicts from other states such as California . In California, the cost to incarcerate a single inmate is $49,000 a year. Some people say it's OK - that these are private for profit prisons. So why are the Arizona taxpayers subsidizing this corporate welfare?

Who is pushing these construction projects that doesn't appear to fill the needs of Arizona's people? According to "In Defense of Flogging", Peter Moskos writes that correctional unions and private prisons were the corporateers who pushed Arizona's SB-1070 anti-immigration law.

Become a Hubber! Write online for money.

Found Guilty But You Have A Choice .....

The sentencing judge has convicted you for the crime you have been accused of and you have a choice of punishment, (but not both). Five years in prison or - 10 brutal lashes of the Singapore caning?

See results without voting

Not once, not twice, but several times a week for seven months. The rapist was an officer.

Contrary to popular belief, most of the perpetrators were not other prisoners but staff members—corrections officials whose job it is to keep inmates safe.
Contrary to popular belief, most of the perpetrators were not other prisoners but staff members—corrections officials whose job it is to keep inmates safe. | Source

More by this Author


Comments 11 comments

chelseacharleston profile image

chelseacharleston 4 years ago

Prisons need a substantial amount of reform that include a balance of punishment for severe crimes and rehabilitation for less severe crimes. That's for sure


ptosis profile image

ptosis 4 years ago from Arizona Author

It seems that each and every reform creates a different set of problems. I beieve that society needs to be kept safe from dangerous persons that only non-violent offenders should have alternatives to prisons.

Currently, I have a restraining order against a former BF who has violated it several times and is currently in jail. I would rather just put a ankle bracelet on him that beeps the police whenever he trespasses.

I just want to be left alone.


gjfalcone profile image

gjfalcone 4 years ago from Gilbert, Arizona

Nice Hub, I recall the deer in the headlight gaze from AZ. Govenor Brewer when pressed on this very issue. The silence spoke deafening volumes.


sen.sush23 profile image

sen.sush23 4 years ago from Kolkata, India

ptosis, I agree with you, alternatives for the non-violent offenders should be thought of. The Hub is very thought provoking and informative. I really was not at all aware of the state of affairs.


Express10 profile image

Express10 4 years ago from East Coast

I believe if the regimen at Black Dolphin Prison in Russia was the norm for prisons in the US, we would see more people delay or refuse going against the law altogether. US prisoners would not last in Russian prisons and jails for even a month or two.


kkuma01 profile image

kkuma01 4 years ago

Great informative Hub!


Mark Pitts profile image

Mark Pitts 4 years ago from United States

I work in a prison program to provide counseling and practical services for assisting offenders after they are released, and I very much agree that all offenders should not be there. Non-violent offenders is a start, but major and repeated property crimes, even if they are non-violent, would still require incarceration. I disagree with Express10, because the belief that this group isn't tough enough to survive what that group does is a common shield of criminals used to glorify their status; ie: "I am more of a man because I am in prison," and allows them to avoid facing the fact for many of them that they are failures at being a criminal (because they got caught) and at being successful in free-world life. In reality, so many people of so many different personality types are in prison and survive, that it proves people adapt.


Express10 profile image

Express10 4 years ago from East Coast

My sister has been a corrections officer for about a decade now and I have two lifelong friends who are in law enforcement. While I agree with Mark Pitts that not all offenders should be imprisoned, I do believe that those who are in for serious offenses should not have perks and opportunities that are not also free to law abiding citizens.

I did not say or intend my comment to mean any of that I'm more of a man nonsense. I believe a real man is smart enough to be on the straight and narrow.

I also believe that the system itself is not headed in the correct direction because it has been made into an income opportunity for corporations here in the US. There have been complaints of small business owners who say they can't pay their employees at $8 a day or less and that prison corporations have an unfair advantage in this way.

Many of the prisoners get training and education that many hardworking and law abiding civilians cannot afford. I say prison should be just that, not a place where corporations can make money off of the backs of inmates. Nor should it be a place where criminals go to get a degree for free whether it be brushing up on their criminal skills or a traditional diploma/degree. They should be paying something so that it is a sacrifice for them just as it is for 80+ percent of Americans (as far as college, cable t.v., etc. are concerned).

If US prisons were run like Black Dolphin, prisoners would not be allowed to even see where they were going when removed from their cells, they will be taught how to properly address authority, and they will be on lock down in a double cell 23 hours daily with one other inmate. No general population, simply a cell with an hour of exercise outside it and while walking to the exercise cells they must be in a stress position with their head down at about hip level and hands behind their back. Not much chance to figure out where they are to escape let alone communicate with others while being escorted by at least 2 officers each time their out of the cell.

And with a check on every cell each 15 minutes, it makes things even more difficult for prisoners who are planning to break the rules.

Further, they would not be allowed to lounge around like US prisoners as all the beds are folded up and locked into a wall so they must sit on a chair, stand, or walk around their cell during the day and only lie down/sleep at night. Some don't understand that prison perks are better than what some criminals have had or that the ability to socialize with other criminals gives them many opportunities to brush up and refine their criminal behavior to go out and try again with new tactics meant to be a step ahead of the law.


910chris profile image

910chris 4 years ago from North Carolina

This is a great Hub. It makes one think about how far down this justice system has fallen.


ptosis profile image

ptosis 4 years ago from Arizona Author

Great comment express10, there should not be for-profit prisons - AZ is building more prisons to house CA inmates because CA pays off a much higher price per inmate and is cheaper for CA to house them in AZ. AZ get more money per inmate from CA then what it costs AZ.

As far as conditions, it all depends on the level of security. Walla-Walla has 24 hour lockdown, Maricopa County jailhouse has yurts in 120 degrees with dyed green bologna and pink underwear.


Express10 profile image

Express10 4 years ago from East Coast

It's good to hear the conditions at Walla-Walla and Maricopa County are more like punishment :)

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working