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What is the historical role of jails as it applies to corrections?
The Pennsylvania Prison Society was founded in 1787 in Philadelphia with the goals of improving the conditions of prisons and humanizing the treatment of prison inmates. [ Leaders of the society were Quaker clergy who sought to reduce the use of corporal punishment in prisons and jails. They tried to reframe corrections as a religious experience in which convicts could seek expiation for their
sins through Bible reading and contemplation of their misdeeds. The society was successful in promoting the use of "separate and solitary" confinement as a novel penal method to achieve their philosophic objectives (Barnes). Most prisons at the end of the eighteenth century had congregate living situations in which inmates worked in jail-based workshops. Pennsylvania Prison Society members felt that congregate living contributed to prisons becoming "schools for crime" where more criminally sophisticated convicts recruited younger ones for their criminal exploits. The Philadelphia Quakers also believed that solitary contemplation of God could lead to genuine individual reformation. During the early part of the nineteenth century the so-called Philadelphia System of separate and solitary confinement competed with the older congregate system as the dominant penal approach. French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville traveled to America to study the two approaches and make recommendations on correctional practices to European governments (Beaumont and Tocqueville). ]
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