Background Information/Descriptions During the 1820s to 1850s prisons often help mentally ill people. Children who committed minor crimes, like theft, would be put in jail with adults. People who owed money were put into debtors’ prison. People in debtors’ prison were in jail for years because they could not pay back the money they owed.
Background Information/Descriptions A penitentiary punished criminals by isolating them so they could reflect on their misdeeds, repent, and reform. In 1821, several of the eighty men held in isolation at the Auburn Prison committed suicide or had mental break downs. The Auburn movement allowed inmates to silently work together during the day while being isolated at night.
Background Information/Descriptions The following pictures are what a cell looked like before the reformation:
Important Leaders Dorothea Dix An American activist, Dix was the driving force behind the prison reforms in the state of Massachusetts. Dix was so compelled by her personal experience in the Massachusetts house of correction, that she sent her findings to the legislature, to force them to pass a bill improving conditions. Dix had found that jails were holding the mentally ill, and set out to create hospitals for the mentally ill. She eventually persuaded nine southern states to set up public hospitals for such people. She emphasized the idea of rehabilitation, treatment that might reform the sick or imprisoned person to a useful citizen of society. Louis Dwight A reverend is known as the champion of discipline and the first national figure in prison reform. Dwight was the founder of the Boston Prison Discipline Society which influenced national and international governments to improve their facilities and practices. Dwight was largely credited for spreading the Auburn System, a strict disciplinary approach, throughout America’s jails. In addition, Dwight added salvation and Sabbath Schools in American jails for further penitence. "confined in this Commonwealth in cages, closets, cellars, stalls, pens! Chained, beaten with rods, lashed into obedience."
Important Leaders Samuel Gridley Howe A doctor and philanthropist who mainly worked with the blind and deaf to help them learn. Howe opened many schools for the blind and deaf along with the disabled. Howe was an active participator in the prison reforms due to the fact that jails were holding many mentally ill and disabled. Howe believed that these people should be helped and not disciplined. Howe also had goals for the prison reforms. Prison libraries, basic literacy for Bible reading for penitence, reduction of whipping and beating, change of sentences, and separation of children, women, and the sick were all part of his goals.
Accomplishments Juvenile detention centers were built to help reform children so they would not have to be held in adult jails. For example, the New York House of Refuge, the first juvenile detention center was established in 1825. Roughly twenty-five more of these institutions were opened throughout the country by the 1840s. Debtors’ prisons were abolished. Dix helped establish public hospitals for the mental ill in America. Prison reformers began a movement to ease human suffering that continues today.
Connection to Jacksonian Democracy Penalty reform and the idea that criminals could be rehabilitated was inspired by the growth of democracy and the “rise of the common man.”
Multiple Choice Questions 1) Which of the following people could be in jail between the 1820s and the 1850s? a)A mentally ill person b)Someone who owed $50, but could not pay the money back c)A child who stole food d)All of these people could be in jail
Multiple Choice Questions 2) Which of the following did Dorothea Dix NOT do? a)She persuaded Massachusetts to pass a bill improving jail conditions b)She helped create juvenile detention facilities c)She helped create hospitals for the mentally ill d)She emphasized the idea of rehabilitation
Multiple Choice Questions 3) Which of the following was NOT part of prison reform between 1820-1850? a)Juvenile detention centers were built b)Laws aimed at improving jail conditions were passed c)Hospitals for the mentally ill were built d)None of the above