How successful were the prison reform and asylum reform movements

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During the antebellum period there was a change in how prisoners were treated. A very important leader Dorothea Dix taught Sunday school at the jail. She was horrified by the conditions that the prisoners were being held. Dorothea travelled to different prisons and saw the same thing. For 2 years she traveled to prisons and reported how poorly prisoners were treated. She saw prisoners chained together and locked in cages. Dorothea pushed the movement so, mentally ill prisoners could receive proper treatment. Her reform allowed mentally ill prisoners to be removed from dirty crowded cages into a facility where they would receive proper treatment. She also fought for prisoners who committed a minor crime. For example, prisoners were fined and they were required to pay if they were not able to they would stay in prison. Because of this prisons were overcrowded. Dotothea Dixs movements outlawed cruel punishments towards prisoners and pushed prisons to be more humane.

With the increase of immigrants and crimes they system adopted a new form of imprisonments. With a calm and a more disciplined environment penitentiaries and reformatories authorities believed that these prisons would rehabilitate criminals. At these institutions their goal was to rebuild the criminal’s behavior so they could be fit for society. Many inmates were required to work in workshops and they were very limited on the things they were able to do. They worked long and hard hours during the day. Inmates slept in separated cells and were confined to silence.

After the civil war states developed state prisons. They were designed for people who committed minor crimes. Inmates would be convicted for a shorter sentence. During the colonial time mental illness was not sees as a social problem. The reform allowed a movement towards bettering prisons. Prisoners were forced to work long hours in sweatshops and they were confined to silence at night. This movement allowed prions to improve, over the years basic human rights were implemented in prisons.”

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