This Philadelphia System as it came to be known, was designed by Quakers and was developed around their religious beliefs. The latin root of the term Penitentiary is remorse. Quakers believed that solitary confinement would provide prisons the opportunity to reflect and … The first education program in prison was religious and was given through direct religious education as well as indirectly through isolation and forced reflection. (Quakers believe that God speaks to individuals through silent contemplation).
The Prison’s Three Objectives: Ensure Public Security Reformation of Prisoners Humanity toward those unhappy members of society
Walnut Street Jail was replaced by the Eastern State Penitentiary In 1822, work began on what was to become Eastern State Penitentiary, although at the time it was called Cherry Hill because it displaced a cherry orchard. Despite not being finished, the prison opened in 1829. Completed in 1836, it turned out to be one of the largest structures in the country at the time far exceeding preliminary cost estimates. Each prisoner was to be provided with a cell from which they would rarely leave and each cell had to be large enough to be a workplace and have a small individual exercise yard attached. Cutting edge technology of the 1820s and 1830s was used to install conveniences unmatched in other public buildings: central heating (before the U.S. Capitol); a flush toilet in each cell (long before the White House was provided with such conveniences); shower baths (apparently the first in the country).
Eastern State Penitentiary The system of 24-hour separation of each prisoner coupled with in- cell feeding, came to be known as the Pennsylvania System or Separate System, and remained the official position of the Pennsylvania Prison Society throughout the 19th century, although the system and its unusual architecture – a central hub and radiating cellblocks – were seldom imitated in other states. An alternative system known as the Auburn or Silent system developed elsewhere in the United States, with individual sleeping cells, sometimes as small as 2½ by 6 ½ feet, and work in congregate shops in silence during the day. By the early decades of the 20th Century, neither system was used in the United States. However, the Separate System and its distinctive hub-and-spoke or radial architecture, which had developed in the Philadelphia prison, became the template for reform all over Europe, South America, and Asia.
Prison education began when the prison opened, and was a result of Quaker religious beliefs. Solitary Confinement led to limited human contact for prisoners. Chaplains were the primary contacts for prisoners and …[They] would visit … cell[s] during the evening to discuss readings from the Bible…. The chaplain by necessity, was the … first prison teacher.… [I]f a prisoner could not read the Bible he could neither contemplate its teachings nor … reflect upon his errant life, which was the ultimate goal of the penitentiary. It was therefore incumbent upon the chaplain to provide lessons in reading for the illiterate in order to offer the appropriate avenue for salvation. [see paper for references]
Education in Prison benefits who? An historical debate about the purpose of prisons and imprisonment has been ongoing. Punishment or Rehabilitation? Prisoner education falls under rehabilitation. Popular and political opinion about this have effected funding cycles of prison education.
Different Terminology For Incarceration of Youth and Adults Reformatory Industrial School Penitentiary Juvenile Hall
Janie Porter Barrett, reformer and founder of the, Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls in 1915
Janie Porter Barrett, who founded the Locus Street Settlement in 1890 in Hampton, Virginia, modeled her settlement house after Hull House founded the year before by Jane Addams. The Locust Street Settlement was operated out of the home until 1902 when a separate physical facility was built. Among other activities, Barrett initiated child placement activities from Locust Street. She later continued her child saving interests outside of Richmond, Virginia where, with the help of The Virginia State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, she founded the Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls in 1915. Barrett’s approach to social reform also included interracial cooperation. White social reformers such as Jane Addams, who, in 1911, gave a Chicago tea party at Hull House in Barrett’s honor, recognized her work.
The Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls, which exists today as the Barrett Learning Center became a model for other states. Before officially opening the training facility, Barrett used consultation from Dr. Hastings Hart of the Russell Sage Foundation. Without a doubt, she established a standard of care for dependent Black children who had heretofore been treated poorly. At her home school, as it was called, Barrett created a growth promoting atmosphere for young Black girls. The child welfare and educational principles used to foster the growth and development of the dependent girls in her care were adapted from the Child Welfare Department of the Russell Sage Foundation, now the Child Welfare League of America. Her expressed philosophy is akin to contemporary social work values. A comparative chart follows.
Janie Porter Barrett Philosophy Comparative Chart EXPRESSED PHILOSOPHY/EDUCATIONAL THEORY SOCIAL WORK VALUE/PRINCIPLE Kindness rather than severity. Give her every chance to make good, leaving mistakes behind. I have an open forum as often as the girls want it, where a girl can say anything she has on her mind The white people and black people are working together to liberate the lowliest girls in our Commonwealth from ignorance, prejudice, hatred, vice......teaching them the lessons of love of race, love of fellow-man, love of country. We are trying hard to live by the Golden Rule. Accomplishment through faith, goodwill, cooperation. SOCIAL WORK VALUE/PRINCIPLE Non-judgmental/non-punitive Acceptance, basic worth and dignity Purposeful expression of feelings Improving quality of life, realization of goals and aspirations Democratic/caring social order Justice and fairness Harmony, group cooperation
" At that time, there was no place but the jail for a colored girl…” --Janie Porter Barrett Federation Cottage (Honor Cottage) of Virginia Industrial School
Education in Adult Prisons The photo: A collaborative program bringing the instructional resources of Wesleyan University to the maximum security Cheshire Correctional Institute in Connecticut
After the Pell Grant was created in the 1970s higher education was widely available in the adult prison system. Prisoners were able to work toward and achieve college degrees while serving their time.
Access to Pell Grant funding Revoked from Prisoners In 1994 President Clinton signed a crime bill that stopped funding for people convicted of felony crimes. This created severe cuts in higher education programs in adult prisons. Currently there are only several privately funded higher education programs operating in the United States Prison system
One of the few College Programs operating in Prisons in the United States. Bard College’s Prison Initiative Graduation.
The following are current social and cultural commentaries taking a stance against the disparities in prison spending vs. spending on public education spending:
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