Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville's On the Penitentiary System in the United States, and its Application in France
During the early years of the American republic, the nascent justice system was experimenting with new types of criminal punishments. By the early 1830s, penitentiaries that were designed to reform criminal inmates became popular and attracted the attention of social reformers. It is this new prison system that Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont were commissioned to investigate by the French government in 1831. While this French tour of the United States is now best remembered for Tocqueville’s resulting work Democracy in America, this report fulfilled the trip’s original intent. In this work, Beaumont and Tocqueville describe and compare the two most popular schools of prison reform and discuss the merits and problems with solitary confinement and a rigid system of forced labor.
Gustave de Beaumont (1802-1866) and Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859).
On the Penitentiary System in the United States, and its Application in France.
Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard, 1833.
Lehigh University Catalog Record: https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/150563