The Two Types of Prison Systems

553 Words Feb 26th, 2018 2 Pages
The Pennsylvania system was eventually eclipsed by the Auburn system. While differing in correctional philosophy, each method had its merits and shortcomings. The two systems shared some similarities; nevertheless, only vestiges of the Pennsylvania system remain evident in today’s penal system. The Pennsylvania system was based upon the theory that solitary confinement, or the “separate system” is conducive to prisoner reformation, as opposed to the harsh punishments historically doled out to criminals. Private contemplation was seen as the most efficient way for a prisoner to see the error of his actions. This system emphasized anonymity to the point of removing the identity of the prisoner: inmates were referred to by number, not names, and contact with other prisoners was kept to a bare minimum. The Pennsylvania system was lauded for several advances it made in the penal world; first and foremost, it represented a more humane way of treating convicts, who in the past were subjected to horrific conditions, regular beatings or simply executed. Also, it maintained a tight control on prisoner behavior that had, until that point, been lacking. Unfortunately, while the intent may have been rehabilitation, the negative mental effects of solitary confinement on inmates were profound. A significant percentage of incoming prisoners suffered from mental illness,…