The First Penitentiary

Before the latter part of the 18th century, prison was a place to put people away and forget about them. Then the Quakers designed Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia to make prisoners penitent and to encourage their reform.
Compared to other facilities of its day, Eastern State was a technological marvel, and at a cost of $800,000, one of the most expensive building projects of its day. At a time when President Andrew Jackson was still using a chamber pot, prisoners in Eastern State had their own private toilets. Inmates were also served three hearty meals (usually boneless beef, pork, or soup and unlimited potatoes) a day, and had their own exercise areas. The cells each had a narrow skylight so that the divine wisdom of god might shine down upon them! Eastern State was a paradise compared to other prisons of the time. Except, despite all the comforts that were even better than home, this paradise also drove men mad.

Read how the experiment failed, but opened the way for the development of the modern prison system. Link

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