Penitentiary Ideal and Models of American Prison

810 Words4 Pages
Penitentiary Ideal and Models of American Prison Ashley Legare CJS/230 May 18, 2014 Jason Skeens Penitentiary Ideal and Models of American Prison The word penitentiary was once just that, it was an idea and a set of principles rather than an actual structure and institution. The ideals of a penitentiary was not the same as a prison or jail. A penitentiary was supposed to be more of a place that was clean, housed inmates separately to avoid bodily contamination, have humane punishments as opposed to physical punishments and practice corrective discipline. A penitentiary proposed strictly enforced rules and daily labor. Penitentiaries were also supposed to have a spiritual component, it was to be a place of penance. This meant that an inmate was to express their regret for the wrongdoing that they committed. The point of this was to inspire the criminal to want to do better and to better themselves. "The principal goal of the penitentiary was to achieve the kind of spiritual transformation in a criminal being that was associated with the religious beings of the medieval monastery" (Foster, 2006, p.22). Many dispute the first penitentiary that was established, but it is said that the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is in fact the first penitentiary because it practiced all the components of the ideal penitentiary, it was built in 1773. The two models that were used in penitentiaries was the Pennsylvania system and the Auburn system. The Pennsylvania system consisted of two penitentiaries that were known as the Eastern State Penitentiary which was built in Philadelphia and the Western State Penitentiary which was built in Pittsburgh. Only two other states followed the Pennsylvania system (O'Connor, 2011). This system became known as the "separate system" or "isolate system" (Foster, 2006). Each inmate was kept isolated in their cell away from

More about Penitentiary Ideal and Models of American Prison

Open Document