Chapter Activities

Activity 1:

Historical Comparison: Jails and Prisons, Now and Then

Scan The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia website entry on Prisons and Jails by Annie Anderson ( and review the description of the newest Pennsylvania prison, SCI Phoenix, located just outside of Philadelphia (

Write a three- to five-paragraph summary of how the two types of facilities differ and are similar. What is the atmosphere and amenities; how are inmates housed? Describe how inmates would spend their time in each. How are these changes reflective of the Age of the Reformatory in America? Identify how the newer SCI Phoenix facility adopts some of the changes in corrections after the Age of the Reformatory and developments in the 20th century.

Activity 2:

From the Battle between Pennsylvania and Auburn to Mass Incarceration

Ask students to identify the “Top Three” states in American corrections (Texas, Florida, and California). Have them take turns describing each of the state prison systems, using probes such as “what model do these systems use primarily?” and “how are they different from the early models of prisons developed in Philadelphia, PA, and Auburn, NY?”

After some discussion, have students pair into groups of two or three and have students collectively grade the implementation of the original prison system to the “Top Three” states. Prior to class you may develop a scoring rubric to assess the degree to which the original values and ideals from the Pennsylvania and Auburn systems are evident in Texas, Florida, and California. After having student groups share their thoughts, ask them to imagine that state and federal prisons in all 50 states used incarceration similarly to these three states. When everyone has had a chance to envision this scenario, discuss the following: What alternative would you suggest for the United States for its correctional population? Predict what outcome(s) would result from an increase in the use of prisons? What is your opinion of the use of prisons in these three states compared to the rest of the country?