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A Prison Found

tflurry's picture

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 was an eerie place, not necessarily having the effects on its prisoners it hoped to. Eastern State was more torture or prison than reform center. Easter State tried to mentally break me down with silence and darkness. Life would seem scarily smaller, with low outlook on life, and the only hope for change relies on people coming by. 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. 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. Eastern State cannot change me or control me, the “new prison” is just like all the rest and I will defeat it.


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. Eastern state provided prisoners with ample time and silence to think over their wrong doings, confess and improve themselves. 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 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. The original design of Eastern state forced people to really look into themselves and their actions, alone in a cell with nothing to do but explore your own mind allows a person to form a new perspective on themself.


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. 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. There’s no way for them to force me to welcome insolation. The grey walls around me make me feel lonely and constrained. Prisoner’s lack of communication and isolation did not aid in improvement but rather inspired rebellion. He had to be uncooperative to give himself something to do.  Solitary confinement was not a situation to be accepted without a fight. Eastern State was a lonely, maddeningly quiet and boring cell, and unproductive waste of his time. It is funny to create the way to communicate with my buddies and neighbors. From the POV of Samuel Brewster, ESP was a waste of space that isn’t effective in its penitentiary methods to make me reflect on my wrongdoings. Who rules the prison, the guard or the prisoners, comes into question. 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. 

From the POV of Samuel Bruster, an uncooperative prisoner sentenced to five years of solitary confinement, 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. 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. 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.