In Massachusetts during 1841, Dorothea Dix decided to change history forever. While teaching Sunday school Dix saw many prisoners locked away like caged animals. She quickly devoted herself to find out why the conditions were so bad.
She has no idea what the conditions are like here.
I'm so excited that I get to teach Sunday school at the jail!
I need to do something to help these poor people stuck in jail.
Dix traveled to many prisons, jails, and even debtor's prisons. Debtor prison is the prison people go to when they owe money, however they don't have a chance to earn money because they are in jail.
The Prison Reform
If the prisoners can't work to pay off their debts they will be stuck in here for a long time. This seems like a corrupt system.
Wow! I can not believe what is happening to these people. We need to change something!
Dix was absolutely mortified by how the mentally ill were treated. The cells were dirty and overcrowded. Many of the ill were punished in cruel ways for misbehaving. Dix thought that the mentally ill needed treatment instead of punishment.
They really treat these poor people like this?
Help us! Our living conditions are overcrowded, inhumane, and completely unbearable.
It is not worth trying to get help because we will get whipped instead.
Dix collected information about her horrifying encounters in the prisons over the course of two years. Then she sent the Massachusetts state legislature a report on the uncivilized prisons.
Later in the state legislature session..
Dix's report astonished lawmakers into making public asylums. Dix created many reports fighting for human rights, as a result, other states also created hospitals for the mentally ill.
I totally agree! We could make public asylums for the mentally ill.
Dix dedicated her life to fighting for prison reform, but sadly she died in 1887. Dix's efforts made a difference. Some of these differences are debtors were not longer in prison, and cruel punishments were outlawed. Today without the reform prisoners might have been subject to cruel punishment. Dix dramatically impacted the prison reform.
Thank you Dorothea for helping me get out of jail, and for fighting for change.
I fought for what I believed in, and I changed history forever.