Date of this Version
UReCA: The NCHC Undergraduate Journal of Research and Creative Activity, 2021, pages 79-100
Critical research titled Controlling Wickedness: The Journey to Penal Reform and the First Prison Systems in New York and Pennsylvania from 1820-1840 by Joseph Antonio Flores in UReCA: The NCHC Undergraduate Journal of Research and Creative Activity, 2021, pages 79-100.
This research examines discipline methods and architectural design in New York and Pennsylvania prisons from 1820 to 1840. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Cesare Beccaria discussed Enlightenment-era punishments. Benjamin Rush and William Bradford framed prison discussions through American ideals. After New York and Pennsylvania replaced most capital punishment with hard labor and solitary confinement, legislatures erected their first prison systems. New York constructed the Auburn and Sing Sing Penitentiaries, and Pennsylvania established the Eastern and Western Penitentiaries. The two systems embodied the principles of European and American reformers. Both instilled discipline and control. Auburn Penitentiary’s Warden, Elam Lynds, believed corporal punishment, silence, and labor enforced discipline. In Philadelphia, John Haviland’s prison design, rooted in Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, maintained constant surveillance to impose discipline and gave inmates a chance to interact with God. This paper examines how prison systems emerged from religious and philosophical ideologies that intended to control the criminal humanely.