Dr. Roizen to NYCHS about its 'Dannemora Yard Dens' presentation

What a delight it is to see that these two 30-year-old pieces -- the kludged-together Clinton Prison mini-history and the essay on "The Courts" -- have been given new life at the NYCHS web site!


Both were completed over a very short period of time, little more than two weeks total, in the autumn of 1972. The occasion was a system-wide review of correctional facilities commenced by the NYS Department of Correctional Services in the wake of the September, 1971 Attica insurrection. If I recall correctly, the physical plants of every one of the department's correctional facilities would undergo independent evaluation.


The San Francisco architectural firm then known as Kaplan & McLaughlin won the review contract for Clinton in Dannemora. As it happened, I had worked on one or two previous architectural review projects with Herb McLaughlin.


When Herb discovered that the outdoor recreation area at Clinton was the site of a complex of inmate patios, he called me and asked if I would catch a plane to New York and write up a descriptive analysis of this unlikely inmate institution. Exactly what my descriptive evaluation should do or accomplish was left to me. I was soon on that plane and wondering what I was going to find at Clinton.


For the record, I was not a "Dr." in 1972, but instead mid-way in my grad school progress toward getting an M.A. in sociology at Berkeley. Truth be told, I didn't actually slip my head under a doctoral hood until 1991.


Permit me to close by saying that I'd be very pleased indeed to receive e-mails from observers who may have had more recent experiences of Clinton's patios -- whether as staff, inmate, or in some other capacity (ron@roizen.com). I'd be intrigued to learn how much, or how little, the three intervening decades may have changed the institution I saw and tried to describe.


My warm thanks go out to Tom McCarthy and the New York Correction History Society for putting these works online!


With kindest regards,


Ron Roizen
Wallace, Idaho