Floggings, branding, and other mutilation and humiliation punitive events were also made public.Hanging offenses included murder, rape, robbery, burglary, stealing slaves, rustling livestock, counterfeiting, and treason.In 1866, under the Reconstructionist Republican Governor Robert M.
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By August 21, 1839, after seeking a location that was central to Alabama, property for a prison was purchased adjacent to the Coosa River near Wetumpka. William Hogan was selected to be Alabama's first prison warden.
In October of that year, Governor Bagby laid the cornerstone of the Wetumpka State Penitentiary and by 1841 the 208 cell prison surrounded by walls twenty-five feet high was completed at a cost of $84,889. The first inmate entered the Wetumpka State Penitentiary (WSP) in 1842 with a twenty year sentence for harboring a runaway slave.
Surprisingly, especially when contrasted with today's way of thinking, the people of the 1820's and 1830's did not want a prison system.
As a general rule of the early Alabama frontiersmen, the administration of justice was best left in the hands of the local citizens, or when available, with county officials.
This disappointing drain on the tax coffers did not go unnoticed by the "home rule" public. Graham became the first private sector contract warden. Except for a few hardened criminals, most convicts were pardoned for the war.
On February 4, 1846, an act was passed which permitted private individuals to lease WSP's facilities and convicts. In 1850 the first female convict was admitted after receiving a ten year sentence for murder, and she was kept in virtual solitary confinement in a single room of the prison's hospital. Ambrose Burrows was killed by a convict and the state resumed control of the prison with Dr. In the spring of 1865, the Federal Troops released all convicts, except one who remained voluntarily at the Walls.
Credited by some historians as being the Father of Alabama Corrections, Governor John Gayle repeatedly tried during 1831 through 1834 to introduce legislation that would create a more civilized criminal code that included a state penitentiary system.
Fearful of state government encroachment, the "home rule counties preferred their brand of justice," and resisted the state's efforts to develop a penitentiary system until January 26, 1839. Bagby, the State Legislature enacted a criminal code that authorized a state penitentiary system.
Legislation was also enacted requiring better care and treatment of convicts in response to many reports of cruelty and barbarism.