Hawes-Cooper Act 1929
Charles B. Fields
The Hawes-Cooper Act (H.R. 7729) was passed on January 19, 1929, and mandated that prison-made goods and merchandise transported from one state to another were to be subject to the existing laws of the importing state. The act took effect five years after passage and was repealed in 1978. Work by inmates in the earliest American penitentiaries was initially justified by the idea that hard labor was reformative in nature. Whether by individual labor in a solitary cell (as in Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary) or through congregate labor in enforced silence (as in the Auburn system), work was thought to be integral to the reformation of the criminal. Gradually, as a result of increased public and government attention to the costs of prison operations, many institutions began to examine ways whereby a prison could also achieve some degree of self-sufficiency. During this time, many states begin to use prison labor ...