Extract from a letter from Elizabeth Fry regarding the cells at Pentonville prison. She had been concerned for some time about the 'Solitary and Silent' systems favoured by Government.
I think no person should be placed in total darkness; there should be a ray of light admitted. These cells appear to me calculated to excite such an awful terror in the mind, not merely from their darkness, but from the circumstances of their being placed within another cell, as well as being in such a dismal situation...
I am certain that separate confinement produces an unhealthy state, both of mind and body, and that, therefore everything should be done to counteract this influence, which, I am sure, is baneful in its moral tendency, for I am satisfied that a sinful course of life increases the tendency to mental derangement, as well as bodily disease; and I am certain that an unhealthy state of mind and body has generally a demoralizing influence, as the mind in an enervated state is more liable to yield to temptation, than when in a lively powerful state; and I consider light, air and the power of seeing something beyond the mere monotonous walls of a cell, highly important.
Description: Extracts from a letter for Captain Jebb on the subject of Pentonville Prison
Source: Elizabeth Fry - Memoir of the Life of Elizabeth Fry with extracts from her journal and letters Vol. 2 (Google e-books)