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Tag Archives: Imprisonment

In the Media: A Foodie Look at Early Prison Food

Curious about what early prison food was like? This 3:43 minute video from Zagat’s “Bizarre Bites: Prison Food Taste Tests” takes viewers on a brief tour of American prison food from the 1830’s to the present day. The clip takes place at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia and includes some great shots of prison […]

Now Available: Early American Criminals

My new book, Early American Criminals: An American Newgate Calendar, Chronicling the Lives of the Most Notorious Criminal Offenders from Colonial America and the New Republic, has been published and is now available for purchase! Amazon.com (Paperback and Kindle e-book) Barnes and Noble (Paperback and Nook e-book) Smashwords (All e-book formats) Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom) Amazon.ca […]

Special Announcement: Forthcoming Book, Early American Criminals

It has been a long time since I have posted on this website, but that is because I have been hard at work writing my next book. Now, I am thrilled to announce the forthcoming publication of Early American Criminals: An American Newgate Calendar, Chronicling the Lives of the Most Notorious Criminal Offenders from Colonial […]

Prisons and Punishments: The Crank Mill

The punishment of forcing convicts to step on a treadmill–a large, long rotating cylinder with steps attached along the outside–failed to take hold in America, even though England used it successfully for years in its prisons. Proponents of the punishment argued that the treadmill turned prisoners into productive citizens by making them work and provide […]

Prisons and Punishments: The Failure of the Treadmill in America

In 1822, when the American press began to circulate articles praising the use of a new invention in England that would instill fear in convicted felons and turn them into productive citizens, politicians, prison officials, and the press in America took notice. The invention was a treadmill, a large, long cylinder equipped with steps that […]

Prisons and Punishments: The Treadmill Song

From the Amateur STATE PRISON MELODIES. The Treadmill Song The stars are rolling in the sky, The earth rolls on below, And we can feel the rattling wheel Revolving as we go, Then tread away, my gallant boys, And make the axle fly; Why shouldn’t wheels go round about, Like planets in the sky? Wake […]

Prisons and Punishments: Inventive Ways to Cut Prison Costs

Cutting government budgets is on the minds of almost everyone nowadays. All levels of government seem to have empty coffers and are looking for new ways to save money in the midst of persistent societal needs. This situation is prompting many state governments to reexamine how they punish their criminals and to look for creative […]

Early American Criminals: The Cuckolded Soldier

Around 1764 or 1765, Bryan Sheehen returned home to his wife in Casco Bay, ME after serving in the regular army for a long six and a half years. But the joy of his homecoming turned into rage when he learned that his wife had remarried during his absence to a Frenchman. Sheehen made preparations […]

Early American Criminals: “The Wicked Flee When None Pursue”

The final chapter in the fall of John Ormsby began when he stabbed a man in the chest with a fork in Boston in 1734. In his Last SPEECH and Dying WORDS, Ormsby says that he was hanging around a friend’s shop when some of the boys who worked there persuaded him that a customer […]

Crime Poems: “That Notorious Cheat”

Crime Poems: “That Notorious Cheat” In June 1761, Jeremiah Dexter of Walpole, MA was caught trying to pass counterfeit dollars of his own making. As punishment, Dexter was forced on September 10 to stand in the pillory for one hour and pay a fine of 20 pounds. Among the crowd who showed up that day […]