Research

Guard house book

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
This series documents the disciplinary movement of inmates into and out of the institution's guardhouse where they were confined in isolation. Entries include inmate number, inmate surname, date received in guard house, name of receiving officer, date released from guard house, and name of physician for daily visit. In some instances remarks such as inmate sent "to hospital" or reduced "to 3rd grade," (loss of privileges and temporary ineligibility for parole) are recorded.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
0.2 cu. ft. (1 volume).
Inclusive Dates:
1927-1933
Series Number:
B1863

Arrangement

Chronological.

Administrative History

In 1894, investigations undertaken by the State Board of Charities and the Commission to Hear Charges against Managers of the New York State Reformatory at Elmira revealed that order was maintained at the institution largely through the threat and imposition of severe corporal punishment. In an 1899 opinion, the State Attorney General declared that an 1847 act "for the better regulation of the county and State prisons of the State, and consolidating and amending the existing laws in relation thereto" applied to all penal institutions in New York State. The act (Chapter 460) banned corporal punishment of prisoners and stipulated that solitary confinement in a cell upon short rations was the means to be employed in cases where it was deemed necessary to "inflict unusual punishment in order to produce the entire submission or obedience of any prisoner."

Given the nature and purposes of the State Reformatory at Elmira and the legislative acts creating and continuing it, the Attorney General reasoned, it was apparent that the institution was a State prison and was subject to the provisions of general legislation governing such institutions. Shortly thereafter, solitary confinement replaced corporal punishment as the officially sanctioned means of disciplining inmates and maintaining order. By virtue of Chapter 378 of the Laws of 1900, physicians of reformatories were required to examine on a daily basis, "and as often as required by the superintendent," all prisoners undergoing punishment by solitary confinement. In addition, physicians were to "prescribe the allowance of food to each prisoner so confined."

Scope and Content Note

This volume was used to record the disciplinary movement of inmates into and out of the institution's guard house. Inmates were confined in the guard house, in isolation, for periods typically ranging from less than twenty-four hours to several days. Each entry in the volume includes inmate consecutive number, inmate surname, date received in guard house, name of officer receiving inmate, date released from guard house, and name of physician visiting in accordance with State law. In some instances, additional remarks are recorded such as inmate sent "to hospital" or reduced "to 3rd grade," the latter indicating loss of privileges and temporary ineligibility for parole.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of the material.

Custodial History

Elmira Correctional Facility transferred this volume to the State Archives at an unknown date. The volume was accessioned in conjunction with a project undertaken by Archives staff in 2004 to describe or integrate estrayed or unidentified records.

Access Terms

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