Walnut Street Jail

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Walnut Street Jail Janice Tighe Harrison College History of Criminal Justice Mr. Royer 10/17/11 As a Criminal Justice student it is important to know and understand some of the history of our Criminal Justice system. One aspect to know would be the history of our correctional system, in particular the Walnut Street Jail. Before the creation of the Walnut Street Jail life for prisoners was cruel and inhumane. As our text states “By the late eighteenth century, men, women, and children were till mixed together in many American jails. Before the birth of the modern penitentiary at Walnut Street (Philadelphia) in 1790, prisoners endured unimaginable squalor” (Roth, 2011, p. 86). With the implementation of the new correctional system many changes took place including the way the prisoners were housed, treated, and the way they spent their days. As we have learned the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia is considered the birthplace of the American penitentiary. As the article Walnut Street Prison states most prisons were typically built in a U shape with large rooms. The original role for prisons was just to hold criminals and no regard was given for an inmate’s well-being. These prisons were often overcrowded and dirty (2011). The welfare of the inmates did not seem to matter. As Roth states in the text “Contrary to existing penal protocol, Rush envisioned a prison system in which convicts were housed in a large building equipped with single cells to segregate the more dangerous and disruptive prisoners. All others were lodged in apartments” (2011, p. 89). This is a far cry from jails and workhouses of the past with rooms that were overcrowded with prisoners. The Walnut Street Jail was designed to not just hold prisoners but to give them a chance to reflect, but it was also designed to be cleaner and safer then prisons of the past. According to the

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