Yesterday I entered tourist mode and thanks to some more cultured Philly friends, went to visit the old Eastern State Penitentiary.
This place, located just a few mins away from Center City, is a fascinating relic of the first really penal prison in the world. It was first modern building in the United States back in 1830’s and an architectural chaf d’oeuvre because it had central plumbing and heating.
Interestingly enough, the prison masterminds believed that prisoners can be reformed through self-reflection etc’, and therefore held them in complete silence and isolation throughout their entire term. The guards even had to wear wool socks over their shoes to muffle their steps!!
This form of correction came to be known as the Philadelphia system and was then implemented across the United States, Latin America and even Asia.
Many years later they realized it didn’t work and was very expensive to sustain so they started to put multiple prisoners in the same cell and allow them luxuries such as speaking to each other or playing chess…
Another noteworthy site was the prison synagogue which they have just recently restored. I was really surprised to find out of Jewish criminals. I thought our kind only performed white collar crimes..
All in all, the place was very interesting, albeit somewhat depressing…why can’t everyone just play nicely? (They also said that Pennsylvania’s prison population grew 800% since the inception of this place.. This is also true probably true of its criminal population outside of prison!).
Time to fly to Texas. Next post will be on my thoughts about couples’ behaviors.