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Penitentiary Ideal Essay

To the Roman Catholic Church the penitentiary was a tribunal of mercy, responsible for issues relating to the forgiveness of sins. (dictionary, Webster)To the average person it was a place to house prisoners who committed horrible crimes. Although it’s main purposes were both secular and spiritual, it was suppose to be a place of humane punishment rather than that of physical. (Corrections: The Fundamentals, by Burk Foster. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 2006 by Pearson Education, Inc.)

The penitentiary was suppose to be a healthy and clean place unlike most jails and prisons. Prisoners were to be kept from each other preferably in isolation as to not contaminate one another with their bodily fluids as with their unholy spirits and thoughts. It was suppose to teach inmates their social purpose, to work doing productive labor and practice corrective discipline as oppose to sitting around not doing anything. (Corrections: The Fundamentals, by Burk Foster. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 2006 by Pearson Education, Inc.)

As a secular institution the penitentiary was meeting the religious need for the sinners to express their sins. It allowed for the sinner or prisoner to admit his crimes or wrong doings as a kind of confession and promise to do better. The principal goal was for the prisoners or sinners to find or achieve their spiritual transformation.( Corrections: The Fundamentals, by Burk Foster. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 2006 by Pearson Education, Inc.)

There were two principal models of the penitentiary, the Eastern State and the Auburn. John Havilland designed the prison we know as the Eastern State penitentiary. This prison featured seven long corridors that resembled what
looked like spokes on a bicycle. It was flat and had thirty-foot walls that surrounded it. The cells were ten feet long and eight feet in width and the ceilings were about fifteen foot in height. Each cell had a toilet, a table and a bed along with a private patio the same size of the cell. The prisoners were aloud to go outside onto their patios at any time because they were enclosed and attached only to their cells.( Corrections: The Fundamentals, by Burk Foster. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 2006 by Pearson Education, Inc.)

Prisoners in the Eastern State penitentiary were kept in isolation. They were aloud outside twice per day for only thirty minutes and led outside with hoods over their heads, as they were not aloud to see one another. Eastern State in its time was considered the ideal prison or penitentiary. The prisoners were kept on close watch by the guards so close that they wore socks on their shoes so the prisoners could not hear them approaching their cells. (Corrections: The Fundamentals, by Burk Foster. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 2006 by Pearson Education, Inc.)

Just thirty miles of New York City in 1817, Auburn penitentiary opened its doors. This penitentiary was made of small cells about seven feet in length and about three and a half feet in width with a height of only about seven feet, stacked on top of one another. There was no courtyard so the prisoners never went outside. The prisoners were divided into three groups only for the guards to have better control of them. This penitentiary used solitary confinement as punishment. They soon learned after using this method that some prisoners took their own lives, died, or were crazy and delusional upon leaving solitary confinement. (Corrections: The Fundamentals, by Burk Foster. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 2006 by Pearson Education, Inc.)

In my opinion Eastern State penitentiary was the model prison. Although the prisoners were held under solitary confinement all of the time they were let outside and had their own patios which they could go out on anytime they chose. It was better controlled and quieter I would imagine. Auburn penitentiary was led more as a congregate prison, which means that the
prisoners were allowed to interact with one another.( Corrections: The Fundamentals, by Burk Foster. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 2006 by Pearson Education, Inc.) I believe that when punished and put in solitatry confinement that is why most of them died or killed themselves because they were use to being with others and were never aloud outside.

If I had to choose which prison to go to it would definitely be Eastern State only because things seemed more organized, you did not have to deal with other prisoners and the troubles that came with them and you got to go outside and have your own patio. I believe that if prisons today used the example of the Eastern State penitentiary there would not be as many fights and riots that broke out in the prisons and people would have time to think about what they did and not be influenced by the criminal minds of others.

References

-Corrections: The Fundamentals, by Burk Foster. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 2006 by Pearson Education, Inc.


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