American prisons are overcrowded. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and nearly 2.5 million Americans are serving prison sentences.
Nearly all politicians agree that we need to reform the American prison system, but they disagree on how to do it.
Can gaining historical perspective on this present-day problem help us solve it?
Today, we investigate early American prisons and prison life with Jen Manion, an Assistant Professor of History at Connecticut College and author of Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
In this episode, we investigate early American prisons and prison life with Jen Manion, an Assistant Professor of History at Connecticut College and author of Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America.
During our investigation, Jen reveals: Information about early American prisons and prisoners; Crimes committed by early American men and women; And, reform movements that sought to alter prison life during the early American republic.
What You’ll Discover
- Crimes committed by early American men and women
- Early American ideas about crime and punishment
- Prison life during the British colonial period
- Prison life during the early American republic
- Demographics of early American prisoners
- Why early American men and women committed crimes
- The story of Anne Carson
- Whether women and children experienced prison differently from adult men
- Governance of early American jails and prisons
- Early American prison reformers and reform movements
- Eastern State Penitentiary
- Women’s involvement in prison reform
- Hard labor punishment
- Prison factories
- Early republic prison sex panics
- Why African Americans were disproportionately imprisoned during the early republic
- Early American prison reforms that might inform present-day reforms
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Jen Manion
- Jen’s Twitter Handle: @activisthistory
- Jen’s Tumblr Page (Liberty’s Prisoners)
- Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America
Time Warp Question
In your opinion what might have happened, if the United States had stayed the course with the British system of prisons and punishment after the Revolution? How would the history of American carceral culture be different?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
Do you have a question, comment, or suggestion?
Get in Touch! Send me an e-mail, tweet, or leave a comment.
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