Transforming The American Prison System Essay

1914 Words Dec 18th, 2015 8 Pages
Transforming The American Prison System Charles Dickens’ American Notes chronicles his visit to the United States in the mid 1840s. Dickens spends the majority of this nonfiction work exploring the young institutions of the United States of America. During this time period, two separate major prison systems began development. The two prison system plans, named after the cities where they were located— the "Philadelphia" plan in Pennsylvania and the "Auburn" plan in New York, both share a common thread, solitary confinement. Solitary confinement— the isolation of a prisoner in a separate cell as a punishment— is a uniquely American invention based on the Quaker theology. Often considered an unwarranted criticism of the still young American democracy, Dickens American Notes addresses an issue that is as prevalent today as it was in the 1800s. In modern day America, prisoners all across the nation sit in solitary confinement, just as Dickens witnessed 175 years ago. Despite the fall of its quaker theological justification and attempts by Dickens and several others to shine a light on the atrocities carried out in these prisons, solitary confinement has engrained itself as a staple of the American criminal justice system. In the early 1800s, two major prison system plans were developed and implemented, one known as the "Philadelphia" plan and the other, the "Auburn" plan. Both systems were among the first to institute solitary confinement in the United States. The system was…

Related Documents