As Reprinted in NYCDOC'sSixteen months after
Correction Commissioner Anna M. Kross, who championed BOC's creation, reprinted the entire text in her 1958 annual report. It is reproduced here.
"1st Meeting of New Board of Correction
From its first meeting on October 29, 1957 to the date of this report, and despite the short time which has elapsed, we have served a useful purpose in cooperating with the Department of Correction in the following ways:
The Board has received the full cooperation of the Department of Correction at all times. Nevertheless, as Commissioner Kross knows so well, the lack of statistical data has hampered both the Board and the Department. (We also badly need a penologist - secretary.)
Our various meetings have taken place not only in the office at 100 Centre Street, but also in the Raymond Street Jail, Rikers Island, the Bronx and Brooklyn Houses of Detention, and the Women's Prison in Greenwich Village. Each member but the Chairman has made one of the main installations his special obligation, thus dividing the work.
The personnel of our various committees all report the fullest cooperation, not only from Commissioner Kross and her headquarters staff, but also from the wardens and their aides at the facilities themselves.
The Board of Correction members have been visiting all the prison facilities in New York City. Some of us have visited correction institutions in California, New York State, New Jersey, and even England. However, we are leaving, at least for the time being, the analyzing of the Department's operational activities to the Prison Association of New York and New York State Correction Commission personnel, who have been doing this expert job for many years. Our general impression, however, is that operation of the buildings is poor, being hampered by the almost total lack of competent maintenance personnel. As a result, the buildings -- many of them not too well put together in the first place -- are deteriorating at an alarming pace.
A study made by the Bureau of the Budget indicates that, without any consideration of what the percentage of the 1958-59 $258,500,000 police department budget could be applicable to the expense of incarceration, it costs the city about $10 per day to keep a prisoner in jail. This figure includes the cost of operations of the Department of Correction plus interest cost on its buildings, loss of taxes, welfare costs to bereft families: and court, probation and parole costs. These figures point up the fact that, even were no humanitarian aspects involved, every New York City citizen should be concerned with the rapidly increasing prison population. (Please refer to the Chart at the back of this report.) Humanitarian aspects should also concern the statistician because of the resultant reduction in recidivism. The problem is pointed up by the fact that, despite the present already-too-high cost of incarceration, our prisons are shockingly undermaintained and alarmingly undermanned.
The Department of Correction has had no statistician over long periods because of the low allowed pay. Frankly, we feel that, under the present circumstances, this is a good defense for those who distribute the city money. Anyone will agree that each of the following items is a good example of the old penny-wise and pound-foolish adage:
These operational aspects will be dealt with at more length in our next report to you, as extraordinarily heavy commitments of capital funds have had top priority in our deliberations.
The New York City prison population is increasing at a rate of about 265 per year. (See chart.) The enormous costs for full custody prisons ($13,000 per cell in the case of our most recent Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue Jail, now housing male adolescent detainees) demand a careful examination of methods which might cut down the increase in, or actually reduce the number of, the incarcerated.
"An offender is sent to prison as a punishment and not for punishment."
The Board intends to concern itself with the implementation of our interpretation of the above quotation as our prime objective. The following represents what we consider to be a sound method of achieving this goal.
We define below our view of some improvements over the present handling of prisoners by the City of New York. Our plan is promptly to make changes in our arrangements as further improvements come to our attention. We will then work with the Department in an attempt to proceed to a point as close as possible to this ideal, while taking, into consideration the practical aspects which might interfere with the achievement of our aims.
We believe that the caging of human beings should be resorted to only after all other efforts of reform have been exhausted. We recommend, therefore, that every conceivable method to prevent citizens from ever entering our jails be examined. This move will require concerted, enlightened, cooperative work on the part of our police, churches, welfare agencies, hospitals and health agencies, teachers, judges, probation and parole departments, and parents.
Your Board believes that, with the exception of those who have committed a crime against the person of another (mayhem), incarceration before trial should be shunned; that every other one accused of a violation of any sort should be detained in prison before trial only if circumstances clearly show that a miscarriage of justice, or the loss of the prisoner from the state, would otherwise take place.
The present rehabilitation activities of the Department serve a limited purpose, if any. A program concentrating most of the rehabilitation personnel at present available to the entire Department on 60 of our youth at Rikers Island has been recommended to the Director of the Budget. We feel that the present personnel will probably be able to handle these youngsters effectively. The move will of course end any service for hundreds of other needy adolescents.
As well over 95 per cent of our prisoners become free citizens again, it behooves us to exert some effort -- at least enough to avoid regression -- toward helping all prisoners. Within our limited resources, however, and the short incarceration time of many prisoners, the full rehabilitation treatment cannot be given to all.
Too many people forget that only a few of the incarcerated don't ultimately obtain their freedom. We must do all we can to improve them while in jail.
In view of the regressive effects of such treatment, and believing, as we (and most penologists) do, that the deliberate punitive methods have no deterrent effect upon prisoners, it is obvious that the most a prison, by its very nature, can do is to provide, first, the atmosphere under which prisoners have the best chance to "reform" for the better, together with the right men and women to maintain this atmosphere.
The ideal custodial officer should have had at least some casework training, and should have proven his interest in rehabilitation before being employed.
The Department of Correction has spent at least its last half century in vainly attempting to increase the pay of its custodial officers to an extent which would attract the type person who could help to rehabilitate the prisoners. It has repeatedly called the attention of those in charge of city funds the fact that a custodial officer is expected to be more intelligent in the handling of prisoners than a parent in handling a child. This work takes self-control of a high type and cannot be assumed in an applicant who can only seek the low pay given our correction officers. (Despite the low pay, there are custodial officers within the Department of Correction who are very interested in rehabilitation.)
Too few psychiatrists, psychologists, graduate caseworkers, and volunteer aids are available. To this one must add the demoralizing effect to casual medical care (because of a shortage of -- not inadequate -- personnel) and the appalling fact that only five per cent of the prisoner's aching teeth are filled -- all others are extracted (again a matter of shortage of personnel).
The Board has recommended a relatively large 18459,474) increase in psychiatric, psychological, case work. dentistry and general medical services for the Department for the fiscal year 1959-60. If the 1958-59 police department costs ($258,500,000), the hospital costs ($149,374,324), and the youth board costs 1$4.151,420) were lowered by only 0.11 per cent by a resultant reduction in recidivism, the investment would be worthwhile. Actually, the medical recommendations are the minimum which our topnotch, hardworking medical advisory committee believes is required merely to avoid neglect in violation of the law.
An indication of what other states would think of the defacement by tooth extractions perpetrated by our Department of Correction, is the fact that, in addition to a staff of five full-time dentists, a full-time plastic surgeon is available at the Reception Center of the California Youth Authority operation in Norwalk, California, with a capacity of only 350.
As the chart indicates, our city will be involved in another $40,000,000 building program by 1965 unless an effective method to get, or keep, many of our present prisoners out of jail is devised, or unless other lower cost methods of incarceration are used. No ideal plan for the housing of prisoners would countenance the present chronic, dangerous overpopulation of all the city facilities. That new facilities are badly needed is obvious. The Board has endorsed the construction of buildings under C 71, C 73, C 74, C 75, C 76, and C 80 in the Department's capital budget. These, however, would not begin to solve the physical fact of overpopulation, as the 3,620 increase in capacity is supposed to satisfy the closing of buildings [the Queens House of Detention, the Raymond Street Jail, and the House of Detention for Women] with a capacity of 1,118 prisoners, present overcrowding of 1,750, and an expected increase of3,500 by 1970.
We favor a substantially different type of structure, for much of the future building -- one involving relaxation from the full security which has been the rule in the City Correction Department.
Those on our Board who have visited correction departments
in other states have been impressed with the superior organization in many
of them for the easy handling, and well-being, of the prisoners. Even in
a building planned as late as the Brooklyn House of Detention, shockingly
inadequate space for recreation was allowed, and the only reasonable
facility -- the gymnasium on the roof -- wasn't (and still isn't) either
roofed or walled in for all-weather use.
Production in Jails.
Production in Jails.
In line with the industry-labor advisory committees, a variety of shops should be set up to furnish a maximum amount of goods and services to all city agencies.
As an example of deterrents to any such plan, the unions and a State law have stopped print shop prison printing of all items except those needed by the Department of Correction. The rest of the city departments could save thousands of dollars by getting their requirements from the Correction Department. At the same time, with decent equipment (now lacking) those carefully selected for this work as being rehabilitatable, will, while in jail, get their certification for industrial jobs.
The same progressive steps as with printers could
be taken in other industries.
"Pay" for Prisoners.
"Pay" for Prisoners.
We believe the Wisconsin system of allowing civil
violators to go to work every day, paying for their food and board, while
paying whatever debts they owe, is a simple, logical, humane, and economical
way to treat such prisoners. For prisoners jailed as debtors, this is just
about the only way they can pay their debts.
We recommend increased teachers' salaries, to bring
them up to those of most other jurisdictions in the city, in order to obtain
experienced teaching personnel; and adequate budgetary allocations to make
possible all-year-round teaching of at least the adolescents.
A Rehabilitation Authority.
A Rehabilitation Authority.
A state-operated reception center, in or near New York City, should be established into which convicted prisoners (at the judge's will) are placed, following conviction, but before being sentenced. This single unit should be subdivided into age groups, and sex, to avoid the need for duplication of the high-grade, expensive personnel needed on the administrative level. The prisoners should remain there only long enough to be properly classified. They would then be transferred, depending upon the results of classification, to:
The final decision on types of incarceration should be left to the judges, but with the specific recommendation of the staff at the reception center in mind.
All those sentenced to more than one year should be
the responsibility of the State.
Your Board is now seeking a meeting with the State Department of Correction. It is our aim to discuss the following long-term problems with them:
Reduction in Future Prison Population.
As can be seen by the projection in the chart, the long-term prospects in New York for a reduced prison population are infinitesimal -- in fact, it must be apparent that the first job is the reduction in the Tate of increase in population.
As already stated, alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes
and vagrants should not be dealt with in a penal atmosphere. By now all
experts in the welfare and health fields agree that these people should
properly be placed in the custody of, or under the control of, medical,
health, or welfare authorities. The removal of this group from the New
York City prisons might cut the population in half. We are aware of the
immediate resultant overpopulation problems of other agencies in the
city, but believe that proper planning would dictate the prompt estimation
of what such increased obligations would mean to them so that they,
too, could plan ahead.
The Reduction or Elimination of Bail.
The Reduction or Elimination of Bail.
Almost half of our prison population in New York is in detention. This group includes many who might better be paroled before trial. As it is now a crime not to appear for trial, no bail is often indicated, where it was formerly considered necessary.
The Board of Correction has not yet felt that it required the services of any one outside its own membership for the purpose of public relations. At a time when the long-term target of the Board is more clearly determined. it might be well to pay some attention to such an activity.
As this Board has no authority, it would be pointless for it to attempt to get help, in the form of subcommittees, from interested organizations, for the implementation of its ideas. It is our view (already tested with encouraging results) that we can best serve the purposes of the Correction Department, and therefore the city, by discussions concerning the present needs of the Department with interested groups, at informal meetings. An example, mentioned above, concerns bail.
The New York City Board of Correction recognizes the long-term aspects of many of its recommendations. We are impatient, however, and will continue to be impatient, with those who deter the prompt beginning of all constructive moves.
CARL M. LOEB, JR., Chairman