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Social Reforms, Prisons

Auburn System, Whigs, asylums, whippings, souls

A second institutional reform was concerned with prisons and asylums. Northern Whig evangelicals proposed new forms of prisons that were meant less to punish the bodies of criminals (through whippings, incarceration, and execution) than to improve their souls. Pennsylvania built a prison in which convicts sat alone in their cells with only Bibles to keep them company. Most other states adopted the Auburn System, which took its name from a pioneering prison in New York. Under this system, prisoners slept in solitary cells but worked in groups—although a policy of absolute silence was enforced. The products of prison workshops were sold to outside markets. Whigs favored this system because it promised to rehabilitate criminals by teaching them personal discipline and respect for work, property, and other people.

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Auburn System, Whigs, asylums, whippings, souls, Bibles, convicts, incarceration, prisoners, execution, Pennsylvania, respect, states, property, New York, groups, people, company


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