HomeNewsArchitecture of Port Blair Cellular Jail is based on Pennsylvania System

Architecture of Port Blair Cellular Jail is based on Pennsylvania System

The architecture of Cellular Jail was conceptualized on the basis of ‘Pennsylvania System or Separate System’ theory in which separate confinement is necessary for each inmate for complete isolation from other inmates. No communication of any kind was possible between prisoners in the same or different wings. This information was given under the Ministry of Tourism’s DekhoApnaDesh Webinar Series presented the webinar titled “Cellular Jail : Letters , Memoirs & Memories.”

Pennsylvania system of penal method is based on the principle that solitary confinement fosters penitence and encourages reformation. Under this system prisoners are kept in solitary confinement in cells 16 feet high, nearly 12 feet long, and 7.5 feet wide. An exercise yard, completely enclosed to prevent contact among prisoners, is attached to each cell. Prisoners can see no one except institution officers and an occasional visitor. The Pennsylvania system spread until it predominated in European prisons. Critics in the United States argued that it was too costly and had deleterious effects on the minds of the prisoners.

The Cellular Jail in Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a prison where Indians fighting for freedom from the British were exiled and incarcerated under very inhuman conditions. Today, a national memorial, it is called cellular because it was constructed to host only individual cells for the purpose of solitary confinement. Originally, the building had seven wings, at the centre of which was a tower with a large bell, manned by guards. Each wing had three storeys and each solitary cell was about 15 ft by about 9 ft, with a single window at a height of 9 ft. The wings were built like the spokes of a bicycle and the front of one wing overlooked the back of the other so there was no way a prisoner could communicate with another.

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