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September 23, 2008

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matt

If you go to the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia (certainly something everyone who goes to Philly w/ enough time should do!) you'll see that the original cells were all very small, made for one person who have very little contact with the outside spending nearly all of the time on his own. This was so that the person could think about his crimes and be penitent (hence the name of the building.) This practice didn't last long since, it seems, it had the primary effect of driving the prisoners crazy. Obviously the safety of the other prisoners and the staff of the prison should be very serious concerns, and neither ought to be exposed to seriously dangerous prisoners. But also obviously we ought to think more clearly about what solitary confinement does to people as well.

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