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John Howard became interested in conditions in prisons when, shortly before the age of 50, he was appointed high sheriff of Bedfordshire. On attempting to correct prison abuses, he was told that there was no precedent for the expense to be incurred. "I therefore rode into several neighboring counties in search of one; but I soon learnt that the same injustice was practiced in them; and, looking into the prisons I beheld scenes of calamity which I grew daily more and more anxious to alleviate. In order therefore to gain a more perfect knowledge of the particulars and extent of it by various and accurate observations I visited most of the county gaols in England." Howard extended his observations to the prisons and hospitals on the continent and published his reports under the general title of "The State of Prisons in England and Wales... and an account of some Foreign
John Howard (1726-1790) Hospital and Prison Reformer: A Bibliography. JAMA. 1939;113(24):2176. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800490072031
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