History Of Corrections

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History Of Corrections

Department of Corrections is an agency of the state that is responsible for the
supervision and management of convicted felons. The Department of Corrections allows
the protection of the community by operating safe, secure facilities that keep offenders
under firm, fair practices. There is a wide range of treatment including educational and
vocational programs that help the offenders become rehabilitated citizens. Corrections has
been around for centuries. The corrections history of New York and of Utah are just a
few pieces of a huge puzzle of corrections. “That human institutions require periodic
redesign, if only because of their tendency to decay is not a minor fact about them, nor
easily understood. Taken the span of history, there is no more important lesson to be
learned.”
The history of New York’s Corrections starts with the Fort Amsterdam Era. Fort
Amsterdam was erected in 1625. Its facilities were dungeon-like. Its prisoners included
unruly soldiers, native people that were uncompliant, and debtors. Next came States
Huys. It was built in 1642. This Corrections facility also served as a tavern, a court, and
a city hall. In 1699 Stats Huys was condemned as unfit and could no longer be used as a
jail and judicial center.
Next the New York City Hall was constructed. Many dangerous prisoners were
kept in the basement until they had their court proceedings. But in 1700 the basement’s
security was proved to be inadequate, so guard’s were hired to watch the prisoners. In
1759 the first facility was built specifically for use as a jail. It was named New Goal.
Most of the jail housed civilian lawbreakers except for a few debtors and paupers. 1775
brought about the construction of a workhouse known as Bridewell. It was to be placed
in New York City Hall Park but its construction was interrupted by the War for
Independence. In 1788 the New York State Legislature enacted a law that named twelve
Commissioners to Bridewell and Almshouse, another Corrections facility. This panel of
commissioners is almost definitely the administrative beginning of the New York
Department of Corrections.
New York opened its first state prison in 1788. It opened on November 28th. It
was named the Greenwich State Prison. The structure included Doric columns, huge
surrounding walls and four acres of grounds. 1816 brought about New York’s first
penitentiary, named Bellevue City Penitentiary. This penitentiary is the home of a large
number of female felons. Next came Auburn prison which was opened in 1817. In 1821
Auburn prison opened a new wing to their facility. It was built in a cell system to replace
the old dormitory housing. Inmates in the sell system are allowed to leave their cells
during the day to work in the prison shops. This new system was then deemed the
“Auburn system” and soon after became the standard for American prisons. In 1824
the New York State Legislature incorporates the society for the Reformation of
Juvenile Delinquents as a subsidiary of the New York Society for the Prevention of
Pauperism. Authorization was then given to build a house of refuge for delinquent
children. An old War of 1812 arsenal was used for the refuge. It was rebuilt as a secure
residential institution and was named the New York City House of Refuge.
Ossining prison was opened in 1825 to compensate for the overcrowding at
Auburn and the Greenwich State Prison. Greenwich State Prison was then destroyed and
a prison at Mt. Pleasant that became known as Sing Sing was reconstructed to hold the
inmates that were transferred from Greenwich. Also in 1828, the New York City
Commissioners of Bridewell and Almshouse bought The Blackwell Island so that they
could have facilities under their jurisdiction. This included the New York City
Penitentiary.
In 1830 the Provost, a jail that was used when the British were in control, was
closed down and was turned into the city Register’s office. 1832 brought about the
opening of the New York City Penitentiary on Blackwells Island. The Almshouse
Department is also created to operate the Almshouse, Bridewell, and the NYC
Penitentiary. Five commissioners are also named to run the Department. The first state
prison matron is also hired at Auburn in 1832. In 1836 the Kings County Jail was started.
This was before Brooklyn was part of New York City and therefore allowed the jail to be
operated under the jurisdiction of the Kings County Sheriff.
In 1838 the Halls of Justice were finished after four years of construction. It

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