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NYCHS presents Dr. Ron Roizen's brief history of Clinton Prison & his study of its 'inmate-owned' yard patios aka 'the courts.'


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That Clinton CF stands on a mountainside accounts for a unique tradition at the prison. For decades, the sloping portion of the prison yard has been subdivided into 300 courts cooperatively "owned" by groups of inmates who gather on their particular patios to garden, to cook and eat, to play cards, checkers and chess: in a word, to socialize.

That the sloped yard space is not suitable for athletics makes it available to be reserved for more sedentary recreational uses.

A patio may range in size from 9 square feet to 25-by-50 feet and accommodate up to 6 men. The variety of makeshift constructions conveys the look of a "hobo" village. But Ron Roizen's detailed study points up much more is involved than simply the architectural hodge-podge that meets the eye.

NYCHS is pleased and honored that Dr. Roizen has provided us with an original 1972 printed copy of his study to transcribe to our web site.