Penitentiary Under a Cloud

Penitentiary Under a Cloud

Eastern State Penitentiary, opened in 1829, is considered to be the world's first true penitentiary.

The dominance of the United States in most of the 20th Century (often characterized as The American Century) can be traced back to the "magnificent purposes" defined by the great minds of the prior centuries. The ideas of "prison reform" were also no exception; Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons, which still exist to this day, was founded by Dr. Benjamin Rush in 1787, with Benjamin Franklin joining the society the same year.

Eastern State Penitentiary was established with the efforts of Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons, and it is the first Penitentiary that adapted a "correctional theory" of imprisonment.

The prison was formally closed in 1971 and opened to the public for historic tours in 1994. It is definitely one of the must-see places in Philadelphia.

2011-03-11 Update: A guest asked me if I was aware that the United States has the largest inmate population in the world, more than one in a hundred adults; even more than the Stalin Gulag Era. Yes, the prison system in the US is not really working. Additionally, a recent Meta-analysis of previous studies shows that prison sentences do not reduce future offenses. Hence, the "correctional theory" is "under a cloud" [which is an idiom for "under suspicion"].
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