An Inventory of Papers in Syracuse University Libraries©
While many avenues of Progressive reform were barred by the advent of World War I, Osborne was offered, through the good offices of his friend, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the wardenship of the U.S. Naval Prison in Portsmouth, N.H. Political mountebanks, hard-line penologists and a few ranking navy men received Lt. Comdr. Osborne's unsparing criticism when they interfered with his program at the naval stockade, but at Portsmouth Osborne had the counsel and backing of the Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and his assistant, Roosevelt.
Osborne's work at the Naval Prison was thus a success, despite the anticipated obstruction. It might also be noted that Osborne ushered in his mission to Portsmouth with a hitch in the Navy as "Landsman Tom Brown." By design, Brown served a stretch in the brig and had his enlistment cut short by a dishonorable discharge.
After leaving Portsmouth Osborne redoubled his efforts through private agencies and led a column of the Progressive drive deep into the Twenties.
His practical efforts gave temporary relief to the people with whom he had personal contact, and the societies he founded continue to function. The National Society of Penal Information, the Welfare League Association and the Osborne Association banded together in 1932 under the name of the last agency.
With headquarters in New York City, the Osborne Association continues to provide ex-prisoners with lodging, job information and social services which are calculated to discourage recidivism.
At the same time, the Association provides information to active penologists in an effort to raise the nation's correctional standards.
During his life Osborne routinely collided with entrenched ignorance. At times he was close to despair: "It is no use talking, the politicians are too strong for us." Soon he would recover his former zest.
Based upon Osborne's personal inspection of more than 30 prisons in the '20s, reports were published on prison conditions in the United States, Britain and Greece.
His film, The Right Way, enabled him to tour the country to spread the message of prison reform.
On the lecture circuit in Nashville six months before his death Osborne summed up his program:
Thomas Mott Osborne died on October 20, 1926, while returning home from an evening at the theater.
|The Osborne Family Inventory text 1971 by Syracuse University Libraries|