down on Raymond St. Jail inmate exercise yard.
Note the urn on the monument top.
at Willoughby St. and Ashland Pl.
Note the Fox movie sign.
Raymond Street Jail Sidelights
Since this [Mayor Robert F. Wagner's] administration took office, Raymond Street Jail, with a cell capacity of 465, has been consistently overcrowded. On Oct. 11, 1954, [it] was forced to accommodate a population of 848; in 1955. the highest census was 775; and in March, 1956, the census reached a high of 758.
Almost ten years have elapsed between the original planning of the new Brooklyn House of Detention for Men (which now replaces the Raymond Street Jail) and its final completion. The amount of space allotted for inmate housing did not take into account the constantly increasing number of arrests. As a result of this lack of foresight, the new institution in Brooklyn has a cell capacity of only 817, with no adequate provision for a predictable growth in inmate census.
In its search for additional housing space, the department has repeatedly requested the use of the Sheriff's Jail adjacent to the Raymond Street Jail, which formerly housed civil prisoners and material witnesses, under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff of the City of New York. This building has not been used by the Sheriff's office since January 3, 1954, and they have officially refused to release it for use by this department.
Ever since 1900, Grand Juries of Kings County have been working for a new detention jail for Brooklyn. As a result of the many setbacks over the years, on November 15, 1938, the Kings County Grand Jurors Association, the Courts Committee of the Brooklyn Bureau of Charities and twenty-three other leading civic, religious and welfare groups, representatives of local Chambers of Commerce, Boards of Trade, and women's groups held a large community meeting to renew the drive for the removal of the obsolete, Bastille-like, century-old Brooklyn City Prison, commonly known as the Raymond Street Jail.
For many years Raymond Street Jail had been denounced by health authorities, grand juries, judges, penal commissions and penologists, as an incubator of vice and crime, long overdue for the wreckers.
In January, 1939, a citizens' group called the Committee of One Hundred was organized. Pressure was brought periodically by public meetings, publicity and editorial support throughout the borough to advance the building of the new jail. Saturday, April 22nd, and Sunday, April 23, 1939 were set aside by clergymen of all faiths as days for a borough-wide appeal in all houses of religious worship, for public support of the movement to obtain a new detention jail in Brooklyn.
If it were not for an aroused, informed and enlightened Public, we would not now have this modern $10,642,000 Brooklyn House of Detention for Men, which has been referred to as a scaled down version in design of the famed UN's glass fronted building, and which now proudly joins Brooklyn's skyline to add to this administration's long list of city-wide physical improvements.
RAYMOND STREET JAIL
January 23, 1939
Henry R. Kinsey,* Chairman
149 Ashland Place, Brooklyn 1, New York
This ancient and outmoded jail was intended to be replaced by the new Brooklyn House of Detention for Men. However, the pressing need to house the increasing number of adolescents in detention precluded this move, and Branch Brooklyn House of Detention has continued to house the adult offenders.
The building is composed of a dormitory on the top (3rd) floor, another dormitory on the middle (2nd) floor, and a pantry, dining room and recreation room on the lower (1st) floor. Two correction officers are required and assigned to operate this new facility. It has a capacity of 84 beds divided between the two upper floors.
With the reorganization of the traffic court procedure and rearrangement in the method of handling traffic offenders, a facility was required to handle these short term offenders whenever they were committed to the Department of Correction. The facility had to be one which would enable the department to keep these traffic offenders separated and processed differently from the usual type of prisoner. It was decided to use the old civil jail for this purpose.
On July 24, 1962, this building was vacated by its inmate help occupants and placed into operation as a traffic offender facility for short termers and adjourned adult cases. It operates primarily as a separate institution within Branch Brooklyn House of Detention.
Unquestionably, the handling of these traffic cases under the present system is a marked improvement over the old system wherein a traffic offender would not be differentiated from killers, rapists, burglars, etc.
On July 14, 1789, the death knell was sounded for the infamous Bastille prison -- an event still celebrated by French people all over the world.
On July 20, 1963, another rotting prison, the Raymond St. Jail, officially went out of business -- a fact which will gladden the hearts of prisoners, jailers and reformers. . . .
The evacuation began at 8 A. M. yesterday and was over at 1 P. M. The majority of the prisoners were split up between four other city jails, with only a working party left behind to clean up the debris.
The Raymond St. Jail was built in 1838, and its most recent addition was completed century ago. . . .
Reformers described it as "a medieval dungeon. . . ."
Yesterday spelled the end of an era.