This Scourge Of Confinement

JONATHAN NASH
THE PENNSYLVANIA MAGAZINE OF HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY 139.2 (2015): 109-134

In this essay Jonathan Nash portrays life in an early nineteenth century Antebellum prison through prison records and the records of reform societies set upon ameliorating those conditions. While focusing on Pennsylvania, this essay compares nicely with the more recent treatment in the Journal of American History, and ought to be read together to obtain a sense of the changes and continuities in the effort to regulate prison life. Like the essay by Chase, this one also seeks to expose how the prisons of earlier days tried to strip inmates of their individuality and rights by reducing them to particular abstractions and identifying characteristics. In a society which now incarcerates a larger percentage of any other in the free world, this topic should be of particular interest to anyone concerned with the history and nature of liberty.