Eastern State: Living Behind the Walls
It took a group of well-known and powerful politicians including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Dr. Benjamin Rush more than thirty years to convince the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to build what would become the foundation for our current American penal system. What was at the time a new form of prisoner discipline and rehabilitation is now known as solitary confinement. [This documentary] is a chilling exploration of one of America's most notorious prisons. It opened its doors in 1829 and operated for 142 years, closing in 1972. This film explores how the revolutionary experiment of solitary confinement was nothing more than psychological torture, and how the desire to rehabilitate criminals gave way to financial realities not unlike those facing our modern day prison system. Al Capone served time there in the 20's. Willie Sutton and ten other men tunneled their way out in 1942. In-depth interviews with some of the last people to live and work at Eastern State Penitentiary explore how the conflicting goals of punishment and rehabilitation made life at Eastern State unlike any other prison experience.