Prison Education: Evolution

By Christopher Zoukis

1789: Correctional Education Movement in the United States began with clergyman (Religious Society of Friends) William Rogers offering instruction to inmates at Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Jail.

1816: Elizabeth Fry began teaching women inmates and their children to read in London’s Newgate Gaol. This example later served as a model for American women prison reformers. 

1820s: Rival penitentiary plans were put into effect: The Auburn ( New York ) Plan had inmates sleep alone but come together to work. The Pennsylvania Model kept prisoners in solitary confinement for the entire period of their incarceration.  Image courtesy

1820s & 1830s: American women concerned themselves with the plight of female prisoners during the Second Great Awakening, which popularized perfectionist theology, advocating the possibility of individual and social salvation.

1825: The first institution for juvenile delinquents, the New York House of Refuge, opened its doors. Prior to this, children were often housed with adults in prisons.

1826: Jared Curtis became the first chaplain of New York ‘s Auburn Prison. He gave 160 students in 31 classes Bible instruction.

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