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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 74806 Find in a Library
Title: Sinking Gradually Into the Proletariat - The Emergence of the Penitentiary in the United States
Journal: Crime and Social Justice  Issue:14  Dated:(1980)  Pages:37-43
Author(s): M B Miller
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 7
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article describing the development of Auburn Prison in New York, and suggests that the early American penitentiary was repressive and directly opposed to humanitarian reforms.
Abstract: In the years after the War of 1812, unemployment soared, and crime more than doubled. The criminals were mostly working class men with a disproportionately high percentage of free blacks and young men. The vast majority of crimes for which they were prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned were for store-breaking, theft, and fraud. The prison at Auburn was built in 1816. Its original emphasis on workshops, where prisoners were contracted to local manufacturers, was replaced in 1819 by a panoptic militarism, with extreme discipline, uniforms, shaved heads, and overall suppression. These changes were approved by the public because of growing economic problems and public sentiment against competition from low-wage prison workshops. There is no evidence of efforts toward correction of the refractory prisoner except at the broadest level (breaking the spirit of prisoners through corporal punishment. One drawing is included. A list of 32 references, 6 documents, and 17 explanatory footnotes follow the text.
Index Term(s): Correctional facilities; Correctional industries; History of corrections; New York
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