Within Prison Walls by Thomas Mott Osborne (Heathen Edition)

Within Prison Walls

Spine #28
Thomas Mott Osborne
First Edition
Heathen Edition
April 28, 2023
February 14, 2024
Heathen Genera
Paperback ISBN
Hardcover ISBN

The account in the following chapters of my week in Auburn Prison is taken from the pages of a journal I kept during my confinement. In that I jotted down, day by day, every incident no matter how trivial it seemed at the time; so that I possess a very complete record of my week in prison.

As I have transcribed the pages of the diary I have lived over again every moment of that remarkably vivid experience, finding that almost every act, every word, every detail, is fairly burned into my memory.

I shall not attempt to draw up any bill of indictment against the Prison System, or to suggest specific improvements, either in general principles or administrative details; I shall simply set down the facts and my feelings as accurately as I can.

Thomas Mott Osborne (1859–1926) was an American prison administrator, prison reformer, industrialist, and New York State political reformer, who was so inspired by Donald Lowrie’s 1912 book, My Life in Prison, and its call to action concerning prison reform, that he convinced the governor of New York to appoint him chairman of a new State Commission on Prison Reform. Then, on behalf of that commission and to better understand “the prison problem” firsthand, Osborne voluntarily entered Auburn Prison as “Tom Brown,” No. 33,333x, for one week in 1913 to live as a prisoner — even going so far as having himself thrown into solitary confinement. The 1914 publication of that electrifying experience, Within Prison Walls, shocked the world and made him the most prominent and respected prison reform crusader of his day.
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