1838 Report on Westchester,N.Y.Prison Mt. Pleasant
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1838 REPORT ON WESTCHESTER, N.Y. PRISON :"MT. PLEASANT" A annual report for 1838 on conditions at Mt. Pleasant State Prison in Westchester County, New York. Instead of being one report, the booklets 74 pages are actually a series of reports dealing with the various concerns and activities of the prison. The report reveals that the prison was running on the "silence system", one of the more popular theories of prison management that were in vogue at the time. As the booklet describes, the prison contained 1000 solitary confinement cells, where;"each convict, during his meals and through the night,is locked up in a manner to prevent any communication between them, and they are required to observe perfect silence while in the cell". Since the prisoners were expected to work to help the prison support itself, there were a number of expenditures for materials for the various shops in which the inmates worked in manufacturing various articles such as shoes, hats, and etc. to be sold to the public.
Two especially interesting reports were the lists of prisoners who were pardoned, which listed the crimes they had been convicted of, and the time they had served before their pardon, and a huge poster - sized 17"x 31 1/2" list of the prisoners released for having completed their sentences. This document lists the nature of the crime committed by the inmate, the time they had served, and whether they had served time for a previous offense . It is interesting to note that, unlike the present the number of repeat offenders was very much in the minority. However, those few that were repeat offenders were particularly hardened . One individual was listed as having been "3 times in New York Prison, once in Massachusetts prison, and twice here". Yet another was listed as having served:"18 years in various prisons, including Botany Bay !". A fascinating group of material, whose superb condition may be largely attributable to its having once been bound with several other reports.
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