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Reading Eastern State

pialikesowls's picture

Solitary confinement was not a situation to be accepted without a fight. Eastern State Penitentiary was an innovative attempt at changing the very hearts of prisoners, but which failed to take into account the role of kindness. The idea of reforming prisoners rather than just looking them up was revolutionary and enlightening, even though it tended not to work in the practices Eastern State used.

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. 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. Isolation is hard to truly come by, though, if achieved, it does encourage contemplation, which, unfortunately, does not necessarily encourage reform. I cannot imagine the games the mind must play when it only has itself for company.

The penitentiary is a record of past horrors, but one whose ghosts have long since fled. 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. Eastern State was a cold, somewhat menacing, but still contemplative, cell, separated from everything.