A recent article in the New York Review of Books examined an art exhibition at the former Reading Prison in Berkshire, England. The prison, formerly known as the Reading Gaol, was for about two years the residence of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde.

At the time, Gaol was run according to the “principles pioneered at the Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia.” Inmates were locked up for 23 hours a day in complete solitary confinement. It was 1897, and inmates, when exercising in the yard or attending services in the chapel, were isolated from one another in boxes and were made to wear hoods. Strict silence was enforced.

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