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Prison CP - February 1883

Corpun file 21193


The New York Times, 4 February 1883

State Prison Treatment

Warden Green, of Kings, on the Contract System.

His Plan of Governing Prisoners -- The Theory as to the Value of Contract Labor -- Ex-convicts on Paddling.


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Warden Green, of the Kings County Penitentiary [in Brooklyn, New York -- C.F.], appeared before the Assembly Committee on Prisons, at the Hotel Brunswick, yesterday, and testified as the contract system of work in that institution, as well as to the treatment of prisoners. Warden Green exhibited four rawhides and two leather straps, which, he said, had been used by his predecessor to punish refractory convicts. The straps were 2 feet long and 1 inches wide, and were riveted with iron nails. On assuming charge of the penitentiary Warden Green abolished the use of straps and rawhides and instituted a system of rewards instead of punishments. Prisoners under the new regime were allowed to see visitors every day from 12 to 1 and all day on Sunday, provided their general behavior was good. The only punishment resorted to was the dark dungeon, from which the prisoner would be taken as soon as he was penitent.


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"Then what Warden Brush said, that the blows of paddling could not be heard from the room up stairs, is not true?"

"Yes, unless there has been a change since I was there," was the reply.

"Tell us what you do know?" asked Mr. Sigerson.

"Well," said the witness, [...] "I have often heard the noise of paddling. I counted 40 blows once. I was then on the same floor with the paddling-room. I also heard the paddling when up stairs. [...] "

William Kennedy, who was in Sing Sing Prison from 1878 to 1881, testified that he had received rough treatment under Warden Brush, and was paddled three times. After being paddled with 35 and 50 blows when sick, Principal Keeper Biglin asked him how he felt. He was again paddled for striking an instructor. William Brown testified that he came out of Sing Sing Prison on Tuesday last. He was paddled for talking to his side partner [...]

Two men three weeks ago, he said, were paddled and sent to work the next morning without any breakfast for fighting, one having stepped on the other's mold. [...]

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