Prison_MOORE - USHistory2010-11

Amy Moore
Period 6
Dorothea Dix began visiting prisons in
1841, and she found that mentally ill
persons were still treated as criminals.
She visited more than 800 jails and
almshouses, or homes for the poor
 People with mental disabilities were
treated poorly because people didn’t
understand how to control them
Dorothea Dix
March 1841 – East
Cambridge Jail
 The mentally ill were all
housed together in an
unheated, unfurnished, and
foul – smelling quarters
 “the insane do not feel
heart or cold”
The popular belief was that the insane
would never be cured and living within
their dreadful conditions was enough for
 Dorothea’s views of the mentally ill were
radical at the time
 Her opinions were dramatic
Her Solution
She didn’t know the mental processes that were
occurring within these individuals she knew that
improving their conditions wouldn’t hurt them
She started out by going to where the mentally ill were
housed in different parts of Boston
 Sent all of her data & delivered it to the Massachusetts
 Her material won legislative support and funds were set aside
for the mentally ill.
Traveled to other states and went to jails and almshouses
in a state, created descriptions of the conditions, and
prepared a document comparable to the one which
proved successful in Massachusetts.
 Covered all states on the east side of the Mississippi River.
 Funded 32 mental hospitals, 15 schools for the feeble minded,
a school for the blind, and numerous training facilities for
Bill for the Benefit of the
Indigent Insane
 Set aside acres of Federal land
(benefit of the insane, and the
“blind, deaf, and dumb”)
 Proceeds distributed to the states
to build and maintain asylums.
 Bill passed both houses of
 1854, President Franklin Pierce
vetoed it
○ Federal government should not
commit itself to social welfare
(properly the responsibility of the
Effect of her movement
Indirect inspiration for the building of
many institutions for the mentally ill
 Created the first generation of American
mental asylums
 Established:
 Libraries in prisons
 Mental hospitals
 Training facilities
Relevance Today
Not all mental prisoners are being
accommodated for
Receive abuse from staff due to their inability
to function in a prison setting
“managing mental disabilities in prisons
requires corrections therapies for disabled
prisoners, but unfortunately most prisons
today are not equipped to handle the
escalating number of prisoners who exhibit
signs of mental health problems.”
Many go untreated
 Placed in segregated cells where they are confined
rather than treated
1. Was the Bill for the Benefit of the
Indigent Insane passed or vetoed?
2. How were mentally ill prisoners
treated? (the problem)
3. What was the outcome of all the work
Dorothea Dix did for the mentally ill?

similar documents