Public Figures and Penal Scholars Study U.S. Models

face of a prisoner

Early in the first half of the nineteenth century, public figures and penal scholars from around the world visited Auburn State Prison or Eastern State Penitentiary and wrote lengthy treatises about those penal models. Such figures included:

  • John Quincy Adams, who had recently completed his term as U.S. President, and Andrew Jackson, current U.S. President (both visited the Eastern State Penitentiary in 1833).^
  • Alexis de Tocqueville (French political and historical scholar) and Gustave de Beaumont (French magistrate and prison reformer) (visited U.S. prisons in 1831).^
  • Frederic Demetz (eminent French jurist and founder of the Mettray penitentiary in 1840) and Guillaume Blouet (French architect). Dissatisfied with de Tocqueville and Beaumont’s report, the French government in 1836 commissioned Demetz and Blouet to visit and compare the Pennsylvania (Eastern State Penitentiary) and Auburn systems.^
  • William Crawford (eminent British philanthropist and leader of the Prison Discipline Society of London).^
  • Nicolaus Julius (Prussian scholar).^
  • Edouard Ducpétiaux (head of Belgian prison service).^
  • Mariano Paz Soldán (served as Peruvian Minister of Justice). The Paz Soldán family had important connections to the founding of Bolivia.^
  • Don José Santiago Rodrígues (Venezuelan penal lawyer). He called the Pennsylvania system “a divine system.”^
  • René Bérenger (an eminent French jurist). In 1835, he presented a paper to the French Academy concerning penitentiary systems, including the Auburn and Pennsylvania systems.^

Among European reformers, the Pennsylvania system was generally considered to be better than the Auburn system.^

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