Prison Reform: 1820s thru 1860s


Auburn system installed

Jan. 1, 1821

inmates endured hard labor during day and communal dinner at night to prevent bad mental state. Out of 80 inmates put in solitary confinement, most committed suicide or mental breakdowns.

First New York Penitentiary

Feb. 25, 1821

New York state opened its first penitentiary in recognition of the mentally ill

Auburn prison

Dec. 31, 1821

Auburn prison: many inmates had severe mental breakdowns or committed suicide

Boston Prison Discipline society

Jan. 1, 1825

set up by Louis Dwight, had officials check prisons periodically. Did not help much but lead to more reforms

More Reform

Jan. 1, 1835

conditions got better, less cruel punishments, beginning of the idea that society causes crimes

US Prisons

Dec. 31, 1835

US has two of the best prisons in the world

Dorothea Dix

Feb. 21, 1840

Dorothea Dix observed mentally ill, lobbied and helped establish five state hospitals for the mentally ill.

Public Psychiatric Help

Dec. 31, 1841

First public psychiatric hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia

Insane Bill

Feb. 21, 1852

Dix’s influence resulted in the Bill of Benefit for the Indigent Insane

Dix talks with the Pope

Feb. 21, 1854

Dix convinces pope to examine cruel treatment of the mentally ill. Gained sympathy from Christian people