Post Perspective: Prisons

In “Jailhouse Blues” (Jan/Feb 2013), Todd Pitock argues that the practice of containing and isolating inmates in the prison system does little to curb crime or deter repeat offenders.

The Post has covered the question of reform vs. contain in America’s prisons since the 1800s. The following articles from our archives, and a more recent video from the Council for Unity, take additional looks at this controversial topic.

Council for Unity Video

Council for Unity

Bob DeSena started the Council for Unity to reform inmates who had been sentenced for violent crimes related to gang activity. In this video, ex-gang member Jason Diadema tells how the program has helped him.

Pennsylvania Legislature
December 7, 1822

Pennsylvania Legislature

In 1822, the Pennsylvania Legislature discussed adding treadmills as a form of “labour” and discipline to two new prisons being erected in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

August 31, 1957

The Penalty Worse Than Death

Post writer Douglas C. Rigg reported on the mental and emotional anguish of prison inmates who had been given life sentences, and the argument for reforming America’s concept of “punishment” in 1957.

October 27, 1957

America’s Toughest Prison

In 1957, the Post questioned the legitimacy of practices at Illinois State Penitentiary, where the emphasis was security and confinement of inmates, not reform.