The life of a prisoner was very different from that of today’s prisons. The prisoners were treated as animals and considered less of a human because of their lawlessness. They were made to right the wrongs that they have committed either through “physical pain applied in degrading, often ferociously cruel ways, and endured mutilation, or was branded, tortured, put to death; he was mulcted in fines, deprived of liberty, or adjudged as a slave” (Griffiths 157). Therefore, prisons were a product of the latter punishment, which meant the accused and convicted must be deprived of his or her liberty and declared a slave to society. When in prison, the life of the accused was not as strict as today’s. There were windows that the prisoners could look through in order to beg for charity from the people walking by, and “sometimes prisoners would be allowed to sell things at the prison gates” (Rodgers 91).
Although there are many differences between the life of a prison in the 1700’s and the life of a prisoner today, there are also many similarities. Each accused individual was captured by the police and taken to the nearest holding cell. These cells were in prisons called ‘local prisons.” The individual was then let free or convicted of his or her crime. If convicted, the individual was taken to the closest ‘common prison.’ During the 1700’s there were only local holding jails, common prisons, and houses of correction; later, during the 1800’s prisons became more separated and prisoners were assigned to the appropriate prison.
The convicted were not stripped of their belongings like in today’s prisons, but they were searched for weapons or objects that could be used to escape. Once inside, the prisoner was assigned a small cell made of hard walls, floors covered in dirt and rodents, and a bed. If the prisoner was lucky, this bed consisted of a tiny hammock tied to opposite walls, but often times it was made of a wooden bench or the floor. For meals the prisoners were barely fed, but if they were, small rations of bread and water were given. Many times the prisoners died of starvation and dehydration
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