Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Three Prisons Act 1891
Charles B. Fields
The Three Prisons Act, passed by the 51st U.S. Congress on March 3, 1891, authorized the establishment of the first three federal prisons. The act was an important milestone in the U.S. prison reform movement of the 19th century. Its passage laid the foundation for the federal prison system, even though the Federal Bureau of Prisons did not officially come into being until 1930. Prior to 1789, there were few penal facilities of any kind in the new United States. In 1776, Congress mandated that prisoners charged with federal crimes could be confined in the few county or state facilities available. At the time, the only facility of any size was the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia, and it was there that the first federal prisoners were held. The Judiciary Act of 1789 created the U.S. Marshals Service, which was given responsibility for finding prison space for federal prisoners. It ...