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Prison and Asylum Reform in the 19th Century
Danielle Allaireon 19 December 2012
Transcript of Prison and Asylum Reform in the 19th Century
1816: Auburn Prison opens
1821: in Auburn Prison, after being locked down in solitary, many of the eighty men committed suicide or had mental breakdowns.
1825: The Boston Prison Discipline Society is headed by Louis Dwight 1829: Eastern State Penitentiary opens
1835: America had two of the "best" prisons in the world in PA.
1841: Eastern State Hospital, in Williamsburg, Virginia opens.
1848: Dorothea Dix asks United States Congress for five million acres for the care of the mentally ill.
1854: The Congressional Mental Health Plan is vetoed by President Franklin Pierce. Dr. John Galt -1841: began the superintendence at Eastern State Hospital, the first publicly supported psychiatric hospital in America
-Ideas for revolutionizing treatment included:
> use of drugs
>Advocated in-house research
- Claimed treating African-American patients equal to whites. Dorothea Dix -Motivated by her own deeply held religious convictions
-Showed PA legislators impracticality and inhumanity of American prison system
>32 mental hospitals
>15 schools for the feeble minded
>a school for the blind
>numerous training facilities for nurses Louis Dwight - First national figure in prison reform
-Spread the Auburn system throughout America's jails and added:
> idea of salvation
>penitence to "penitentiary"
- 1825: Headed the Boston Prison Discipline Society
-Plans' cheaper costs caused success of his system “ I come as the advocate of helpless, forgotten, insane men and women; of beings sunk to a condition from which the unconcerned world would start with real horror.” "A large number of insane, instead of rusting out their lives in the confines of some vast asylum, should be placed... in the neighboring community" A Boston Penitentiary - 1782: Dr. Benjamin Rush headed The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons to reform Pennsylvania prisons
- Wanted to create a penitentiary to truly build "regret and penitence in the criminal's heart"
- 1829: opens with means to move the criminal toward spiritual reflection and change.
- Quaker-inspired system of punishments, mostly isolation and labor-intensive
-Had many modern day luxuries for prisoners
-Set world standard for prisons along with the Auburn System Francis Lieber Auburn Prison Dorothea Dix Incurs the Insane (1843) Letter to His Excellency Patrick Noble, Governor of South Carolina, on the Penitentiary System (1838) Economics Politics Social Implications Religion
- 1818: opens as the 2nd publicly-funded prison in New York
- Founded the "Auburn System" for prisons
-Separated men by type of crime
-Communal dining halls
-Prisoners worked to pay for the cost of the prison -Social and political philosopher who disproved of physical punishment
-Believed heavily in education, received grant from Girard college to form education plan
-Advocated in prisons:
> literacy and sources of education
> separating women, children, and the ill
> reducing the use of whippings and beatings "Confession is always weakness. The grave soul keeps its own secrets and takes its own punishment in silence." -Letter from Francis Lieber to John Bacon
-Lieber denounces and lists all forms of punishments used in prisons (i.e. whippings, burnings)
-Calls all punishment inhumane and unnatural - Addresses Massachusetts legislature
-Recounts her travels from prisons and jailhouses across the country
-Shocks many citizens
Personal Statement The asylum and prison reformations of the nineteenth century, although seemingly driven principally by the rightful treatment of all human beings, were evidently reinforced by the ideals of religion. Religion was the driving force that initially compelled many of the asylum and prison reformers such as Dorothea Dix and Louis Dwight to launch their missions for the basic human rights of the insane and prisoners. The newly constructed prisons popping up around the country were ultimately created under the same system as the Auburn Prison due to the fact that every last one of them reached an agreement on the economic aspects of the system. The new cells and prisons being constructed, as clarified by the architect of the Eastern State Asylum, John Haviland, were economically dexterous. The prisons, which followed along with the newfound reformations made in the 19th century, gave more freedom to the prisoners and the insane, while also saving those prisons money on construction. Rather than reforming its prisons, leaders first attempted and believed in the reformation of inmates. In 1870, the National Congress in Cincinnati approved such intentions upon granting Enoch Wines and Theodore Dwight the right to act upon these beliefs. Fortunately, other reformers such as Dorothea Dix appealed to a party much higher than the National Congress in Cincinnati. Dix, appealing to the Legislature of the United States, demanded the better treatment and construction of prisons and asylums. To this request the Legislature humbly complied, thus reforming asylums and prisons in America. The nineteenth century saw several changes in America. From industrialization to the social movement for women's rights, America was revolutionizing its previous existence into a far more "civilized" setting. Prison and asylum reformation also attributed to this conversion of thinking. Those who were previously ignored, tortured, or estranged from their lives were given a second chance at healing and integrating themselves back into society, a change still not completely socially welcomed today. The prison and asylum reform movement was unlike most of the others as it focused less on a specific creed or race of people. The movement primarily worked to improve the treatment of all people regardless of race, gender, or age. Lieber believed that no criminal nor human deserved the harsh treatment that prison life provided. Meanwhile, Galt treated all his patients on a level playing field by treating both whites and African Americans. Dix herself perpetuated women's rights by simply defying the stereotype of women as weak and voiceless. She also fought for the mentally ill which was also a forgotten group of people during the time. A movement of reform as well as acceptance began to culminate during the time of prison and asylum reform.