catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 4, Num 14 :: 2005.07.15 — 2005.07.28


The end of the tunnel

Restored Cell at Eastern State Penitentiary: When Eastern
State Penitentiary opened in 1829, in was the model for prison reform.
Each inmate would spend his sentence in a large, vaulted sky-lit cell
complete with central heat and a flush toilet. This cell was restored
to its 1830s appearance in 2001. Photo: Tom Berault, 2001.

The terrifying exterior, however, gave few clues about the
experiment in merciful justice and reform that Eastern State was
intended to be. Within the walls one found clean, whitewashed
cellblocks designed and built to resemble the airy, transcendent
architecture of European cathedrals. Each cell, designed like a
miniature chapel, was adorned with a single, round skylight often
referred to as "the Eye of God." Each cell was built to accommodate one
prisoner in utter solitude for the entirety of his sentence. There was
no speaking, no singing, and no tapping. No communication of any kind.

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