In the early 19th century, praise for a new device from England circulated around American newspapers describing an invention intended for prison labor. This device, the treadmill, was labeled as a solution to the problem of employing prisoners and reducing the prison population. It permitted incarcerated people to perform endless labor while grinding grain, serving as a preventive punishment that required minimal supervision. At New-Gate, the treadmill became a common means of labor for unskilled workers.The device was powered by the inclined walking motions of up to 22 men.
“On the steps of the treadmill marched the incorrigible and the defiant, through endless hours, often chained to their places, an overseer standing by with a ready whip.”
Bob Grigg, Curator of Colebrook Historical Society (Litchfield County, CT)
In an era of reinvention for prison punishment methods, the treadmill’s spread from Britain to the United States signified an increase of commodifying the incarcerated population.
 Vaver, Anthony. “Prisons and Punishments: Inventive Ways to Cut Prison Costs.” Early American Crime, December 7, 2012. https://www.earlyamericancrime.com/prisons-and-punishments/inventive-ways-to-cut-prison-costs.
 Mangan, Gregg. “Notorious New-Gate Prison.” Connecticut History | a CTHumanities Project – Stories about the people, traditions, innovations, and events that make up Connecticut’s rich history., October 18, 2021. https://connecticuthistory.org/notorious-new-gate-prison/.
 Grigg, Bob. “The Old Newgate Prison in Connecticut.” Colebrook Historical Society. Accessed July 3, 2023. https://www.colebrookhistoricalsociety.org/OldNewgatePrison.htm.
 Peters, Diane. “Treadmills Were Meant to Be Atonement Machines .” JSTOR Daily, May 2, 2018. https://daily.jstor.org/treadmills-were-meant-to-be-atonement-machines/.