The Rise of Incarceration
1. Reformers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries believed that prisons were humane alternatives to corporal punishment. According to your Kann reading, how did ideas about gender (and more specifically masculinity) shape the notion that prison was more humane and better for rehabilitation?
2. On page 133, Kann cites a passage by William Roscoe, an Englishmen who argued that the introduction of additional pain to the world was only justifiable if a “beneficial alternation” was effected. According to Roscoe, “Punishment, strictly speaking, is therefore only allowable as a medium of reformation, to reclaim the offender and secure society from further injury.” What do you think of the idea that punishment of criminals can only be justified if it reforms?
3. How did Dickens respond to the notion that prisons like Eastern State were a humane form of punishment?
4. Why do you think Dickens chooses to conclude his account with the story of the alcoholic, voluntary inmate to the prison? How do you interpret that man’s story?