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The Knotted Line

Evan Bissell, Author

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1867: Seeds of Mass Incarceration

1867: Wines and Dwight report states: no prisons in the United States are seeking the reformation of its inmates as a primary goal. Birth of the modern prison system begins in the South.

1790: Walnut Street Prison is founded by Quakers and becomes the first state prison in Pennsylvania. It is based on the idea of penitence, reformation through solitary confinement for self-reflection, religion and work.  Thirty-nine years later, this is followed by the construction of the most expensive building of its time in the United States, the Eastern State Penitentiary, on which hundreds of prisons were then based.

Actions for Self-Determination:
Discussion Questions:
  • How is/was discipline handled at your school? What does your school's discipline process solve?
  • How is discipline handled in your family? What does it solve? How is conflict resolution handled in your family?
  • Hurt people hurt people. Do you agree or disagree? How can this idea be applied to the criminal justice system?
  • Would a "prison" like Bastoy work in the United States? Why or why not?
Additional Resources:
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