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ESP Essay

clarsen's picture

Eastern state will be a new kind of prison, one where the prisoners will spend time alone to contemplate their action, and learn to reform their ways. Eastern State is a marvel of prison technology. Heating and plumbing systems for each cell, a design that absolutely minimizes contact with other prisoners-while there is debate on whether it does what it set out to do, there is no doubt it is a far better prison than any other in America, or even the world.  Eastern state penitentiary is an exemplary pioneer in the pursuit of reforming prisoners through isolation.  It should work cause the nature of human beings is kindness, so as long as they stay alone and contemplate, they will eventually find the way to their true heart.  Isolation is hard to truly come by, though, if achieved, it does encourage contemplation.

            I am disappointed by the loss of the original mission statement (now they lost the part about isolation), but proud of how it affected other prisons throughout the world.  ESP was a place where they believed prisoners in solidarity would be able to repent for their sins, so that upon their release they would live more wholesome lives.  Eastern State was more torture or prison than reform center. 5 years of no contact with the outside world, apart from that obnoxious preacher and the occasional guard. Constant, unending boredom, or the constant threat of discovery and punishments if attempts to alleviate that boredom were discovered.  Eastern State was a lonely, maddeningly quiet and boring cell, and unproductive waste of his time.  ESP is a place where if you follow the rules and life a life in solidarity, it will drive you mad, as these conditions are not humane.

            Eastern State cannot change me or control me, the “new prison” is just like all the rest and I will defeat it.  Solitary confinement was not a situation to be accepted without a fight.  5 years in solitary confinement. WHAT WOULD THAT ACCOMPLISH. Being thrown into a stone cell with only the “eye of God” for company. And they think that will lead me to repent? Are they insane? I refuse to sit here idly by myself. Especially knowing that there are more people like me right next door.  ESP was a waste of space that isn’t effective in its penitentiary methods to make me reflect on my wrongdoings.  The prison was a site of mental torture, inconceivably harsh to anyone who had not seen it with his own eyes.  Eastern State was a prison unlike any other, where the methods were so damaging to the human spirit, and was so radical that the fascination that came with the prison was far greater than the suffering.  ESP was a place you wouldn’t want to end up in lest you enjoyed the company of your own criminal soul and the judging eye of god.

            From the outside, one thinks this fortress is strict and organized and is reforming thousands of prisoners. From the inside, the prison is falling apart. Things are no longer so organized and officials are doing what they can to keep prisoners under control. No reform is occurring.  ESP left a haunting feeling with me, even in the brief time I spent alone in the cell I felt scared and isolated, without access to anyone or anything. I realized how terrifying spending time alone with yourself can be, and I cannot imagine how awful this place would have been for the prisoners. 5 minutes in, I began checking in with my body.  I paced a lot and zoned into my own thinking.  The cell is cold and a little bit smelly. I am afraid and do not want to stay any longer at all. The grey walls around me make me feel lonely and constrained.  Eastern State seemed more like a place of torture than reform. Solitary confinement can quickly make a person go mad, so I understand why Eastern State had so many problems, especially after getting a short glimpse at what the prisoners experienced.