the concept of prison as a total institution
A total institution is place of work and residence where a great number of similarly situated people, cut off from the wider community for a considerable time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life. [ The term was coined and defined by American sociologist Erving Goffman in his paper "On the Characteristics of Total Institutions" presented in April 1957 at the Walter
Reed Institute's Symposium on Preventive and Social Psychiatry, 1 with an expanded version appearing in Donald Cressey's collection The Prison and reprinted in Goffman's 1961 collection Asylums. The entire prison structure is based on solitude and separatism. Firstly, the convict is isolated from the external world and everything that motivated his/her offences. Secondly, they are to a large degree isolated from one another. During the 18th century this concept was taken to extremes, whereby prisoners were even forced to wear facemasks that did not allow vision or communication during exercise periods. This concept is based on the promotion for total submission, and in older prisons dually acted as a form of buffering with which to control the outbreak of diseases. ]
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