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Breaking the PendulumThe Long Struggle Over Criminal Justice$
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Philip Goodman, Joshua Page, and Michelle Phelps

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199976058

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199976058.001.0001

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The Pain of Penitence in the Early Republic

The Pain of Penitence in the Early Republic

(p.20) 2 The Pain of Penitence in the Early Republic
Breaking the Pendulum

Philip Goodman

Joshua Page

Michelle Phelps

Oxford University Press

The authors analyze the development of the “penitentiary ideal” and the battles over imprisonment in the North and the South during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the context of widespread social anxiety about dramatic societal transformations, elite reformers overcame opposition from less powerful competitors who viewed the prison as antirepublican, antilabor, and antireligion. The chapter highlights the role of struggle, local culture, and intergroup relations in circumscribing the penitentiary ideal and braiding punishment on the ground. The authors conclude that the decline of the penitentiary ideal was not a sudden rupture, but a subtle shift in the penal landscape. The onset of the Civil War would further entrench that penal pivot.

Keywords:   penitentiary ideal, rise of imprisonment, penitentiaries, organized labor, punishment, penal development

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