FALSE Quakers were instrumental in the creation of penitentiaries, not prisons in general. Prisons have been around thousands of years. Penitentiaries are relatively recent and focus on repentance and reform (rehabilitation), not punishment. Quakers made the change to having individual cells and job skills training. Punishing people by putting thirty of them in a room of their own excrement was seen as less likely to prevent recidivism than giving the prisoners other options in life through vocational training.