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Encyclopedia of Prisons & Correctional Facilities

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Encyclopedia of Prisons & Correctional Facilities

Mary Bosworth

Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.

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Pennsylvania System

Kim Davies

The Pennsylvania system was a model of penal discipline that included hard labor, penitence, and the solitary confinement of inmates. This approach, often referred to as “separate confinement” or “isolation,” is based on the philosophy of English penal reformer John Howard, and was supported by the Quakers of Pennsylvania in the late 1700s and early 1800s. They believed that solitary confinement with religious instruction and industry would reform inmates and turn them into good citizens. Solitary confinement was thought to be an effective punishment because it contrasted with the social nature of human beings. The Walnut Street Jail was the first institution in which the Pennsylvania system was employed in the United States. In 1790, a small building was built on the grounds of the existing jail to hold prisoners in solitary confinement. This building was followed approximately 30 years later by the Eastern Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, which was the ...

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