Thursday, October 11, 2012

Prison Reform 1820s: Millbank Penitentiary

Thursday, October 11, 2012
Loretta reports:

The Millbank Penitentiary was conceived by a reformer, Jeremy Bentham, and intended to replace a brutal and disreputable system with one more humane.  The concept caught on in the U.S., and the Eastern State Penitentiary, which still stands, was built in the same decade.

Thomas Allen, in The History and Antiquities of London, (1839), expresses a less than heartening opinion of the place, when it wasn’t yet 20 years old.

Note: The Dante quotation ought to read “lasciate ogni speranza voi ch’entrate: All hope abandon, ye who enter here.

And here it is on an 1830 map of London, (click on Map & Page Grid and you'll find it in the lower left quadrant).

Illustrations from Henry Mayhew & John Binny, The Criminal Prisons of London, and Scenes of Prison Life, 1862


Heather said...

If anyone has the opportunity to tour Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, please do! I returned there this summer, after first visiting in 2003. So much has been done to preserve the site and also explain daily life there. The Jewish Synagog that prisoners built has recently been restored. A great audio walking tour has also been added. Get there if you can-it's worth the trip!

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