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Eastern State Mosaic Essay

Samantha Plate's picture

Eastern state penitentiary is an exemplary pioneer in the pursuit of reforming prisoners through isolation. Eastern state was a place for prisoners to come to terms with what they’d done, and to pray in solitude for forgiveness. It should work [be]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.  Upon their release they would live more wholesome lives.


Eastern State was more torture or prison than reform center. Eastern State tried to mentally break me down with silence and darkness. Eastern State Penitentiary is an unusual prison where inmates rarely have the chance to communicate with others, which makes me try to find ways to talk to other inmates more. Solitary confinement was not a situation to be accepted without a fight. Eastern State was an eerie place, not necessarily having the effects on its prisoners it hoped to. It is a place where prisoners try to fight against isolation, which is meant by the builders in order to make the inmates contemplate and reflect towards reformation. The prison would seem useless-does it really do anything for reform and penitence? The methods were so damaging to the human spirit.


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.  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 was a great attempt to reform the way we think about prisons and how punishment should be handled, I am so glad we moved past this technology. 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. If I had been truly alone I would have gone crazy like some of the prisoners did.  I realized how terrifying spending time alone with yourself can be, both better than how I thought it would be, and also worse than my original imagination.