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Chapter 31: the prison—discipline debates in Tremont Temple.—1846-1847.

During the period 1825-1850 there was an earnest contention in this country on prison discipline, between the partisans of the separate or Pennsylvania system—which enforced the absolute separation of convicts from one another by day as well as at night—and those of the congregate or Auburn system, which, while requiring solitary confinement at night, allowed the convicts, under restrictions, to work side by side, and during religious exercises to sit together. The comparative advantages of the two systems in promoting the prisoner's reformation, keeping him in good physical and mental condition, and giving him useful industrial training, were contested points. The separate system, first tried in Pennsylvania, drew the attention of European philanthropists and publicists, and their reports after personal inspection were uniformly in its favor.1 It was established in Belgium, where it is still continued in full vigor; but elsewhere in Europe the congregate or some mixed system now prevails. In this country the separate system survives only at Philadelphia.

The Boston Prison Discipline Society was founded in 1825, at a time when the discussion as to the merits of the two systems had begun. Early in its existence its reports, prepared by its secretary, Rev. Louis Dwight,2 declared a positive preference for the Auburn method, and treated the rival one in an unfriendly and captious spirit.3 The board of managers rendered little more than a nominal service, and Mr. Dwight, the only salaried officer, became practically the Society. He had been educated for the ministry, but did not assume the charge of a parish. His natural ability was moderate and his culture limited; he was better

1 Among the visitors were Beaumont and Tocqueville in 1831, and Demetz and Blout in 1837, from France; Crawford, in 1834, from England; and Julius, in 1836, from Prussia.

2 1793-1854.

3 Among letters to Sumner which objected to the temper of the secretary's reports were those from Rev. C. A. Bartol and Dr. James Jackson.

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