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Beyond Penn's Treaty

The Life of Thomas Eddy; Comprising an Extensive Correspondence

Page out of 347
New York, 8th month, 8th, 1818. RESPECTED FRIEND,

In a late letter from my particular and valuable
friend, John Griscom

, he informed me of the peculiar
gratification he enjoyed in thy company at Liver-
, and of thy being a warm advocate in favour
of obtaining an alteration of your penal code, and
requested me to forward thee some printed accounts
of the Penitentiary system in this country. It is with
much pleasure that I comply with my friends request,
and now send to care of Cropper, Benson, & Co., a
bundle containing several pamphlets relating to our
prisons, and have added some others that I conceived
would be interesting to thee. We have in this state
two large prisons, one in this city that has about 750
convicts, and one at Auburn, (about 150 miles west
of Albany,) built last year, that will accommodate
about the same number. The affairs of the prison
in this city have been badly managed for some years.
That punishments mild and certain will more effect-
ually prevent crimes, than those which are sangui-
nary and severe, there can be no doubt; and this
would have been most completely verified, if the
plan of our prisons had been adapted to the design
and intention of our Penitentiary system; they should
have been so built, that each convict might be con-
fined at night in a separate room—say six by eight
feet—but unfortunately the rooms, in all our prisons
are calculated for eight to fourteen prisoners, so that
when they are lodged together at night, they have
full opportunity to corrupt each other, and most fre-
quently come out of prison more hardened and
depraved than when they entered it. During the
day, whilst employed at work, and at their meals,
as keepers are constantly with them, it is very easy
to prevent them conversing with each other; and if,
at night, each of them were confined in a separate
room, there would be some good chance for reforma-
tion; indeed, in this way the punishment would be