We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Separate System?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
MyLawQuestions is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At MyLawQuestions, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The separate system is a form of prison design and philosophy that seeks to enhance the reform process of prisoners through isolation and lack of social interaction. This system was primarily used in constructing a number of prisons in which each prisoner was to be contained in a separate unit, effectively placing each prisoner in solitary confinement. The isolation was further enhanced through a number of methods used to strip a prisoner of his or her former identity. This separate system was intended as a way to ensure that criminal subcultures and attitudes could not flourish in prisons.

Also called the “Pennsylvania system” due to the use of the separate system in the Eastern State Penitentiary near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this system was often integrated into the design of a prison. A prison built using the separate system would typically look much like part of a wheel that might be used on a bicycle or carriage. There would be a central office that would act as a hub for prison guards and wardens, and from this hub a number of wings would extend like the spokes on a wheel. Each of these wings housed the individual cells in which prisoners would be incarcerated by themselves.

The separate system was designed to reduce interaction between prisoners as a way to prevent the formation of criminal organizations within communal prison environments. This design was also thought to expedite reformation of prisoners by keeping each prisoner isolated and giving him or her time to reflect on what he or she had done. In order to further achieve these goals, prisoners in a separate system prison were only referred to by a number, never by name, and were allowed almost no contact with other prisoners. Even when outside of their cells, during exercises, they would often exercise in individual areas that kept the prisoners from each other.

These individual exercise areas were not always practical and so many prisons that used the separate system would allow prisoners to exercise together wearing hoods that covered their faces. The prisoners would often be attached to a rope that kept each prisoner apart from each other, and were expected to remain silent while exercising. Even during religious services, prisoners were allowed to vocalize by singing only, and were seated in cubicles that allowed the chaplain to see them, but they could not see each other. The separate system has influenced the designs of many modern prisons, though increased numbers of prisoners has made constant isolation impractical.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.