the black” was sentenced to life in prison for murder, he was an ideal
cellmate. Not only was this 1920s convict innocent of his crime, he was a dog.
A literal labrador retriever.
starts in the 1920s at Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, the largest
and most expensive public building in history at the time of its construction.
It was one of the first prisons to isolate prisoners as a rehabilitation tool.
Before Eastern State, it was standard to force inmate into silent labor
"with the goal of punishing the accused instead of reforming them,"
reports Now I Know.
Governor Gifford Pinchot wanted to help change the state of the U.S. prison
system. He believed inmates could be reformed, and solitary confinement was not
the way. Enter Pep, the Pinchots' black lab who liked to chew cushions.
family bred labradors, which gave the governor an idea. He
"sentenced" Pep, who was a relatively bad-behaved dog, to life in
prison at Eastern State for murdering his wife's cat.
This cutesy backstory (he
wasn't really a kitty killer) was much more fun than simply saying Pinchot was
donating a therapy dog. The prison played along with the colorful tale, too.
Pep had his mugshot snapped with his inmate number, C2559. Not a real inmate
himself, Pep freely roamed around as the cutest morale-booster in the cell
its grand architecture and strict discipline, Eastern State Penitentiary was
the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire
penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners.