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The Prison Reform Movement
Transcript of The Prison Reform Movement
Achievements: The Results That Still Exist Today
As a result of Dorothea Dix's endeavor, 5 Psychiatric care hospitals were established in the United States (26d).
And Psychiatric Care movement
Before the Prison Reform Movement, the United States prison system was overflowing.
Anyone, who was jailed for any offense, big or small, was placed in the same prison (26d). This meant white collar criminals and serial killers could were kept in the same place, and young children could have been put into a cell with a pedophile.
The Jails had horrible conditions (26d). They were overflowing with people because of the nonchalance that was given when placing people into prisons. Many of the prisoners were beat without reason (parry).
Auburn Prison, 1821, 80 prisoners commited mass suicide.
Dorothea Dix: "A Voice for the Mad"
Dorothea Dix led an instrumental role in the reform movement. Running the operation almost single handed.
After witnessing the atrocities in a women's prison, in Cambridge Massachusetts, where she volunteered to teach on Sunday's, Dorothea Dix convinced the Senator to come and take a look at the conditions in which the prisoners were being kept (Dorothea).
In her campaign for reformed Prisons and mental care facilities, she went to individual state legislatures and gave speeches about the conditions in the current facilities and shamed the politicians into passing legislation to solve these problems (parry).
Fun Facts about Dorothea Dix:
Dorothea Dix was originally an elementary school teacher and became famous for her children's textbooks.
Was a leader in the women's education movement until she became gravely ill and suffered from a mental breakdown
Handicapped for five years, Dorothea Dix lived in England until she had recovered and went back to teaching, just now in prisons.
Dix's Goals: Fixing the Prison System
Dix wanted to separate inmates based on age, mental stability, and crime (struggle).
Prisoners were often forgotten and other times, they would be treated so poorly that they would die from a lack of food, proper shelter, medical care and clothing. The result of pure negligence on the part of the states and jailers who had the responsibility of caring for these people
Insane persons were the object of ridicule and were jailed just for having mental disabilities. In jail, they would be whipped into obedience, rarely fed, forced to live in the dirt (Struggle).
Dix wanted separate asylum facilities for the mentally insane rather than having the mentally insane who have not committed any crimes being placed in prisons because society has no other place for them (commentary).
Juvenile Detention Centers were created and Children were moved out of general prisons
New forms of treatment of the mentally ill were being conceived.
Dr. John Galt, revolutionized the field of Psychiatric care with Pills and talk therapy. He conceived and implemented these ideas and many more in the very first, state supported, psychiatric care facility:
Eastern Lunatic Asylum
in Williamsburg, Virginia.
By 1835, America had two prisons which were considered the best prisons in the world (26d.)
The Significance of the Prison Reform movement
Though the prison reform movement is significant because of what it accomplished for prisoners, it additionally played a large role in the general social reform movement that was talking place around the same time.
General Social reform of the 1800's refers to the social reform that was taking place throughout the 1800's and into the 1900's. These reforms include:
Women's Suffrage Movement
National People's Party
Abolition of Slavery
Though prison's still stayed as prison, just now lacking Human Rights violations, the Prison reform movement gave the people a positive self righteous feeling, showing that they can reform their country by voicing their wishes (26d).
Additionally, this movement displayed the power not only of one person, but one women. This showed how much one women could accomplish, going around for years to individual state legislatures for something she believed in.