- Eric Allison, Breaking the Mind-Forged Manacles (Guardian, 23rd November 2007)
- George Monbiot, Mind-Forged Manacles (Guardian, 24th June 2008)
So would mental constraints be better? In Blake's poem, the phrase "mind-forged manacles" can be understood as a reference to "hopeless and depressing thoughts [which] imprison the people ... on the street" [Planet Papers]. I don't think that's quite what the prison reformers have in mind.
Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains (Rousseau). I tried an Internet search for Blake's phrase, and found it used in a variety of contexts. In Mind-Forged Manacles and Habits of the Soul, Peter Lucas traces Foucault's notion of subjection back to Heidegger. Blake's phrase also crops up as the title of a book about cults, and in polemics about religious freedom.
As Monbiot points out, prison performs a socio-economic function, removing large numbers of people from the statistics of poverty and unemployment, so it makes the rest of us feel safer and wealthier. Surely no other mechanisms of discipline and punishment could have this comfortable effect?