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Mark's Section, POV 4: a contemporary American citizen who has an interest in America’s identity as an Incarceration Nation

tflurry's picture

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.


Prison reform in Eastern State was one of the cruelest and severe. Prisoner’s lack of communication and isolation did not aid in improvement but rather inspired rebellion.


It’s an inspiring and illuminating pioneer in reforming the prisons although it failed.


From the POV of a contemporary American citizen interested in prison reform, ESP was a place that shouldn’t be glorified as a breakthrough design.


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.


“Freedom belongs to everyone, no matter who made mistakes or not.”


It is a place built to reform prisoners, and gives us hope since US has been striving to do so for a long time.


From the POV of a contemporary citizen who is interested in prison reform, 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 is a relic, a decrepit pile of rocks and metal. While in its heyday it was the height of prison technology, it was, in many ways, utterly inhumane. [Cells] smaller than they should have been, particularly for housing two people, and designed to cut off interaction with others- that is torture. I am so glad we moved past this technology. That said, it was an impressive invention for its time.


Eastern State is a lens into the past, showing the beginning intentions of incarceration in the US and how they changed.


Eastern State Penitentiary was an interesting place to visit. I am sickened by the idea of solitary confinement- I do not understand how that could ever work to produce more than madmen.

Eastern State may have been founded on a good idea- not writing prisoners off as worthless unchangeable criminals but trying to help them be better people- but the methods did not work and were inhumane.


Eastern State was a great attempt to reform the way we think about prisons and how punishment should be handled, however it was very inefficiently designed for the number of prisoners it was to hold.