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Eastern State was more torture or prison than reform center.

ecohn's picture

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. The prison was a site of mental torture, inconceivably harsh to anyone who had not seen it with his own eyes. It is a place where prisoners try to fight against isolation. Eastern State is truly unlike the other prisons today; prisoners must face perhaps the strongest punishment of our time, solitude. 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.

Does it really do anything for reform and penitence? Who rules the prison, the guard or the prisoners, comes into question. Most prisoners have no ability to read and spend their time (which is what they got) in trying to communicate with their neighbors.

The morals of Eastern State are questionable, and the role of success of reforming prisoners (rather than simply punishing them) is disappointingly low for how many people were forced to stay there. ESP was a place that stripped people of what made them human, and prevented people from performing acts that keep people sane. It could almost be seen as a method of torture, where instead of helping people as the founders had hoped, it took away every liberty a person has.

Eastern state Pen was efficient in providing an isolated environment for convicts to think about their wrongdoings and give penance. Eastern state provided prisoners with ample time and silence to think over their wrong doings, confess and improve themselves. Eastern state was a place for prisoners to come to terms with what they’d done, and to pray in solitude for forgiveness. Eastern state penitentiary is an exemplary pioneer in the pursuit of reforming prisoners through isolation.

The idea of reforming prisoners rather than just locking them up was revolutionary and enlightening, even though it tended not to work in the practices Eastern State used. 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 penitentiary was for the most part a failure: prisoners found ways to communicate and rebel, and often played or refused the help of their reformers.

Eastern State was more torture or prison than reform center.