1916 Report on NYC's Parole Bd. & DOC Reformatory Farm
The above image of part of New Hampton Farms at the NYC Reformatory in Orange County, NY, is from the opening of the New York Prison Association 1916 report section about NYC's parole board and reformatory farm.

Elements of composite title page image above accessed via Google Books.

Texts excerpted from
Pages 136 through 141,
images from Pages 136
through 146, of the
72nd Annual Report
(1916) of the New York
Prison Association (NYPA)
to the Legislature of the
State of New York,
which report was
incorporated into the
Documents of the (1917)
State Senate 140th Session

The work of the Department of Correction during the past year has entitled the City of New York to a place among the foremost of those communities that have conceived of the problem of correction in the light of the latest achievements of criminology and of penal administration.

Had the improvements of the year been merely steps towards greater efficiency in the administration as such, the department might still be entitled to credit for that.

However, the real progress of the year consists in having made the beginnings of the application of truly modern principles of correction (along with the accepted principles of efficient administration) to the complicated problem of both caring for a large number of inmates and of concentrating the activities of the institutions upon the problems of the rehabilitation of the prisoner.

Elements of composite title page image above of NYPA's 1916 report accessed via Google Books.
There have been some setbacks and a few matters in which adverse criticism is necessary. They are, however, slight compared with the important items of progress.

With the beginning of the year 1916, the Parole Commission for the City of New York, established by the Legislature and put into effect by the Mayor of the City of New York, began its activities.

From that time on, it has been impossible to think of the Department of Correction, so far as its dealing with the prisoners is concerned, without taking account throughout of the importance of the Commission.

Practically all the inmates of the Penitentiary and of the Reformatory, and also a considerable number at the Workhouse, are subject to the jurisdiction of the Parole Commission. Up to November .29. 1916, these numbered 3,333, of whom there were:

Reformatory inmates
Penitentiary inmates
Workhouse inmates

It is not, however, the actual number subject to the jurisdiction of the Parole Commission that is alone important; nor the fact alone that through the work of the Commission and its staff of parole officers, it is possible to make an individual study of all persons received in the department and to deal with them, so far as possible, in accordance with the results of such investigations.

The natural advantages of an indeterminate sentence include the possibility of the development of rational and progressive standards of treatment and of efficient systems in the industrial activities of the institutions, and in the academic and trade education afforded inmates. It is therefore, very difficult to dissociate the general improvements in the Department of Correction from the Parole Commission and the indeterminate sentence, and that other great step, the establishment of a clearing house.

The NYPA 1916 report caption for the above image reads: Foundation for Administrative Building, New Hampton Farms.
The clearing house serves for the Department of Correction only, but for that Department, with its elaborate system of institutions and the great complexity of types of inmates and institutional activities, it represents possibilities as yet hardly within the imagination of penologists.

In view of the existence of the Parole Commission and of the indeterminate sentence, of which it is the administrator and of the beginnings of a clearing house, such improvements or plans for improvements as the systematic treatment of drug addicts, the development of a municipal farm, of a farm for women, of an industrial penitentiary on Hart's Island, and of an educational reformatory for the young at New Hampton, assume a new importance and a new meaning.

The NYPA 1916 report caption for the above image reads: Administrative Building Under Construction, New Hampton Farms.
The intimate relation of these various matters will be discussed more fully below. The problem of drug addiction has impressed itself not only on the public mind as a serious public menace, but also upon penologists as a serious institutional problem. In the Department of Correction this problem has come to be felt distinctly only within the last few years. A drug ward and specialized treatment for addicts were introduced in the hospital of the Workhouse during 1915 on the women's side, and a temporary small drug ward on the men's side.

While attempts were being made to obtain a larger drug ward for the men. plans were at the same time drawn up for the erection of a separate hospital for drug addicts on Riker's Island. The cost of this hospital was to be provided by private subscription. It has [proved], however, too costly to be covered by the original private guarantee, so that the City appropriated a supplementary sum of $12,000. Work on the construction has not yet been started but is promised for the spring of 1917.

The NYPA 1916 report caption for the above image reads: Cottage Construction, New Hampton Farms.
The development of a municipal farm on Rikers Island is based upon the assumption that eventually the Island will cover some 500 acres, most of it cultivable.

Already, a good part of the filled-in ground has been graded, the soil sifted and cleaned up of glass, tinware and other rubbish; some of it has actually been under cultivation during the summer of 1916. The housing facilities have been increased so that almost 1,000 men may now be accommodated, and a plan for the ultimate distribution of buildings has been prepared.

While there is still some disagreement as to the possibilities of raising all kinds of vegetables, the indications are more clearly than ever that the expectations for an ultimate farm are justified.

The NYPA 1916 report caption for the above image reads: Finished Cottage, New Hampton Farms.
A law authorizing the Department of Correction to purchase a tract outside the city limits, for the establishment of a prison farm for women, was passed by the Legislature of 1916, and towards the end of the calendar year of 1916 an appropriation was granted by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment for the purchase of such a farm, and the construction thereupon of suitable buildings. It is a great step towards the proper treatment of women offenders, to have been able to procure such a farm.

It is to be seriously regretted, however, that the project of a Detention House and Examining Station for women in connection with the courts, has had to be abandoned in order to make the money appropriated therefor available for the purchase and construction of such a prison farm.

The Prison Association has not been in sympathy with the City authorities in turning that money over for other purposes; and while it rejoices in obtaining a farm for the women where they may be housed and treated more reasonably and decently than at the present Workhouse, it nevertheless deplores that step. However, so far as the progress of the Department of Correction is concerned, such a farm certainly is an advantage and will materially contribute to the unification of the departmental treatment of its wards.

The NYPA 1916 report caption for the above image reads: Superintendent's Residence, New Hampton Farms.

Hart's Island has come considerably nearer the intended goal of becoming the industrial prison of the Department of Correction.

During the year, several of the industrial shops, particularly the shoe shop, tailoring and one of the brush shops, were moved from the Penitentiary on Blackwell's Island to Hart's Island.

In the latter place, practically all of building No. 5 has been turned over for the use of the industrial department.

For the development and completion of New Hampton Farms (the City Reformatory for misdemeanants), very generous appropriations were made towards the end of the calendar year of 1916. There were granted $800,000 on corporate stock, and the development of that institution is daily progressing.

The NYPA 1916 report caption for the above image reads:
On the Steamboat " Correction," en route from Hart's Island to New Hampton Farms.
or the partial and temporary improvement of the conditions which necessitated the campaign for the House of Detention on 3Oth street, an appropriation of $30,000 was made for the reconstruction of the Jefferson Market District Prison. The amount is to be raised by corporate stock and the construction is to be undertaken during the year 1917.

A similar appropriation of $32,000 for the remodeling of the Industrial Building of the Penitentiary on Blackwell's Island, will make possible the organization at that institution of a psychological and psychiatric laboratory that will supply one of the chief instrumentalities for the clearing house to be established there.

The NYPA 1916 report caption for the above image reads:
On the Steamboat " Correction," en route from Hart's Island to New Hampton Farms.
After this brief recital of the principal changes and improvements begun during the year, the importance and the relation to all of them of the work of the Parole Commission, and of the establishment of a clearing house, will become clear. The examination and clinical work as an adjunct to the court, for the purpose of facilitating the work of the court in the disposition of offenders remains, of course, as yet untouched.

The House of Detention for women which was to solve that problem at least in part, has been indefinitely postponed; but once the man or woman has been sentenced to any institution of the Department of Correction (other than a City Prison and for a very limited time), the correctional organization of the Department begins to work.

It is true that not all sentences are as yet for an indeterminate period. Those prisoners transferred from counties outside of New York City, and a majority of those sentenced to the Workhouse, are still sent for a definite period generally not exceeding six months.

The NYPA 1916 report caption for the above image reads:
Railroad Spur, Built by Inmates, New Hampton Farms.
But these are gradually becoming less numerous and less important. All those committed to the Penitentiary or the Reformatory are sent directly to the Penitentiary on Blackwell's Island, there to undergo the preliminary examination which is to supply material both for the Parole Commission and for the institutional authorities. The general system (worked out principally by the Commissioner of Accounts with the cooperation of the Prison Association in the latter part of the year 1915) provides for an examination at the time of such admission, of all inmates by at least the following:

  1. The physician.
  2. The school teacher.
  3. The industrial department.
  4. The Parole Commissioner.
  5. A parole officer or other representative of the Parole Commission.

The results of these examinations are combined and one copy made available for the Warden of the institution and another for the Parole Commission. Had it not been for the organization of a parole body and the necessity of obtaining such information for them, this material, greatly needed by the institutional authorities, would probably not have been obtained for many years. This is the first instance, therefore, of the far-reaching effects upon institutional treatment of the organization of the parole work.

The NYPA 1916 report caption for the above image reads:
"Mascots," en route to New Hampton Farms.
After this point, the parole authorities and the institutional authorities proceed independently. The parole authorities make their general decision as to the further period of time that the inmate should remain in the institution, while the institutional authorities may proceed, especially with the aid of information obtained by the special examinations, to make the best disposition of the inmate in the institutions. The ideal system intended is, that assignment of the inmate shall be made principally on the basis of the findings of these examinations.

For the present this is not done: first, because the psychological and psychiatric clinic has not yet been organized; secondly, because the clearing house, as such, has not yet been fully organized; that is to say, the principles of distribution within the department have not been fully worked out. What such a clearing house should be and how it shall utilize information at its disposal for the best interests of the Department as well as of the inmates, has been tentatively outlined in a memorandum to the Department by the Prison Association.

Click image above to access a detailed NYPA report on the challenges facing the reformatory in getting the farm facilities and program in good shape and operating order in 1916.
Probably the year 1917 will see the crystallization of these general plans and intentions into the beginnings of a definite working system.

The establishment of the Parole Commission for the City of New York is a step of such importance in the progressive development of the treatment of the offender sent to an institution, that it will be well for the whole country to follow closely the developments in the work of that Commission. It is hoped that work will not be interrupted. Attempts have been made last year and again this year, to hamper the work of the Commission or even to abolish it entirely. It is hardly likely, however, that such a backward step will ever be taken. . . . .

For NYPA Report Pages 141 - 146 text minutely detailing the
NYC Parole Commission's initial rules.

The NYC Parole Commission operated half-century before it was eliminated in September 1967 when its parole cases were assumed by the state parole agency. The maximum sentence to be served in a NYC Department of Correction facility was capped at one year.

Click the image below of NYC Parole Commission's 1941 letterhead to access elsewhere on this website the NYC Parole Commission's own description (from a 1937 report) of how it worked

NYC Parole Commission letterhead, 1941. Founded in 1915, NYC PC was the first US city parole board.

Click any of the four images below to access elsewhere on this website how, in NY correctional history, the first municipal parole commission in the U.S., NYC's, links a series of "firsts:"

Various versions of the start-up of the NYC Reformatory at New Hampton in Orange County, NY, appear elsewhere on this website. Pages 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Ernest Blue Vistas in the Trees Beyond Prison Bars tell the story from the perspectives of foresters Ernest W. Blue and Robert Rosenbluth.

Ernest Blue Vistas in the Trees Beyond Prison Bars
Stories and sidebars associated with the life and times of Ernest W. Blue and Robert Rosenbluth. Complied by EWB's son, Allan G. Blue.

To Page 2 of 'Ernest Blue Vistas in the Trees Beyond Prison Bars'
To Page 3 of 'Ernest Blue Vistas in the Trees Beyond Prison Bars'
To Page 4 of 'Ernest Blue Vistas in the Trees Beyond Prison Bars'
To Page 5 of 'Ernest Blue Vistas in the Trees Beyond Prison Bars'

Another perspective on the New Hampton Farms start-up is reflected elsewhere on this website in excerpts from Chapter 1 of John Jay Rouse's Firm But Fair biography of Lewis E. Lawes. Click image below to access.

A section of Commissioner Anna M. Kross' 1954 annual report, elsewhere on this website, is devoted to the reformatory at New Hampton Farms. The start-up segment focus is on Commissioner Katharine Bement Davis and Superintendent Lewis E. Lawes. The web page with that version also includes an insert from the 1958 annual report about NYC DOC ending its role at the reformatory farm and turning it over to the state. Click image below to access.

To: NYCHS home page.
To NYC DOC history menu page.