Brief History of Prisons, Foucault’s Discipline and Why Alcatraz Never Worked

Up until the seventeenth century, detainees were imprisoned fundamentally for obligation. Back then, in Britain at any rate, the possibility of imprisonment had not yet happened to anybody as an especially brilliant thought on the grounds that the typical sentence for those saw as liable of wrongdoings was demise. At that point, in 1615, Thomas More’s “Ideal world” recommended a proposition for detainment as another option.

Right now, about a large portion of the jails were exclusive and leased to sub-contractual workers. Newgate jail in London, for example, dating from as right on time as 1130, was a business venture managed by a “superintendent”.


In 1682, the Duke of York, later to become James II of England, gave over an enormous piece of his American property to William Penn. This land incorporated the present-day Pennsylvania. On hearing the news, Penn cruised to America and the pilgrims promised devotion to him as their new owner after he had ventured upriver and established the Province of Pennsylvania. Under his heading, the city of Philadelphia was arranged and created.


Around then, Philadelphia had become the focal point of jail change around the world. Penn was a Quaker and had been detained in England for his convictions, so he canceled the Duke of York’s “criminal code”, and revoked capital punishment for all violations aside from murder, and rather rebuffed people with detainment and hard work.

Nonetheless, Quakers were not known for their dynamic progressivism, and the law likewise called for serious punishments for sexual offenses, for example, “debasing the marriage bed”, whatever one accepts that to mean. This was deserving of whipping in addition to a year’s sentence for the principal offense, at that point life detainment for the second.

American Penitentiary

Anyway, the main American Penitentiary, which comprised distinctly of cell squares, was developed by the name of the Walnut Street Jail (unexpectedly, the utilization of “prison” originates from the Pennsylvania Quakers and their faith in self-assessment and contrition as an approach to salvation). Not by pollution, either. The prison’s development was finished toward the finish of the eighteenth century, changing it into the primary American Penitentiary.

Around then, Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush and others composed a development to change the brutal correctional code. The new law subbed open work for the past serious disciplines. Response against the open showcase of convicts in the city and the “dishonorable conditions” in the Walnut Street prison prompted the development of the Philadelphia Society. The following year, it introduced to the state council a record of their examinations concerning jail conditions and suggested isolation and hard work as a “cure” and reformative system.

Michel Foucault

Yet, it was Michel Foucault who expounded on the eighteenth century as the age that achieved strategies of control and assessment, rather as the Middle Ages contemplated legal examination. This, he stated, was a dictator gadget for the “scan for truth”, where sovereign forces arrogated themselves the option to build up these purported “realities” to all the more likely manage “equity” by various administrative systems.

It wasn’t humanism that changed things, it was the call of eighteenth-century reformers to not render retribution and, accordingly, during this period, violations appeared to lose their brutality while disciplines lost a portion of their power.

By at that point, society had moved from one that rebuffed the “culpability of blood” to the “guiltiness of misrepresentation”, which framed an entirely different complex system that set a higher “virtue” on property. The specialists in this manner organized a lot stricter strategies for reconnaissance, a more tightly dividing of the populace and increasingly effective methods of finding and acquiring data. In the 21st century, this has quickened to disturbing extents.


In actuality, in its clear support to “amend” the components of control that describe prison, was to get at the issue of understanding the criminal brain behind the criminal demonstration and to manage discipline that was remedial; a treatment to standardize, measure, survey, analyze, fix and change people.

In those days in France, the Ministry of the Colonies is cited as saying: “Past this dissemination of jobs works a hypothetical denial: don’t envision that the sentences that we makes a decision about pass are enacted by a longing to rebuff; they are proposed to address, recover, cure…” Society and jail presently contrast just in degree, where self-restraint is the acknowledged standard, in any event, when applied to the mildest of offenses.


At Alcatraz, prisoners wound up at the Rock since they would not carry on honestly set out for them in other government prisons. In the wake of venturing off the vessel, detainees were welcomed by a group of prison guards who clarified the severe guidelines of the jail. For instance, in the early years, detainees were just allowed to converse with each other during end of the week diversion time.

A lot of Institution Regulations was given to the detainees who were required to keep it in their phones consistently, which incorporated the suggestion for leniency which required they should show better than normal great direct and great work records for quite a long while at the foundation and that loafing, standing around, visiting, or unapproved nonattendance from work would bring about disciplinary activity, and may bring about loss of the prisoner’s activity, and retaining of, or relinquishment of, good time.

Carceral continuum

Foucault additionally contended that a “carceral continuum” goes through present day society, from the most extreme security jail, through secure convenience, probation, social specialists, police, and instructors, to our ordinary working and local lives. All are associated by the supervision, observation, use of standards of worthy conduct of certain people by others.

It must be said that society is as a rule progressively controlled however it is actually an issue of results. The aftereffects of the jail framework infrequently agree with the point, and the target of restorative penitentiaries, for example, Alcatraz, America’s head greatest security jail and the last stop for the country’s most hopeless prisoners, and that of detainment itself as a methods for “improving the individual”, has never been accomplished.