The Life and Death of Prison Reform
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Title Page, Series Page, Copyright Page
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In February 2011, with the research for this book complete and well into its writing, I was surprised to find the reformatory at the heart of this book (the New York State Vocational Institution, more commonly known as Coxsackie) thrust unexpectedly into the news. Mike Stobbe, medical writer for the Associated...
Introduction. The Ashes of Reform
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“Maybe this is the beginning of a new future.”1 The hopeful words of Leo Martinez, a prisoner in Coxsackie (pronounced “cook- sock- ee”) Correctional Facility, stood in sharp contrast to the setting in which they were delivered. Martinez was a spokesman for roughly forty inmates who earlier in the day had...
Part One: The Rapid Rise Of Prison Reform In New York, 1929– 1944
Chapter One. The Reformer’s Mural: The Liberal Penal Imagination
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Building the New York State Vocational Institution would have been impossible without an underlying reform vision that led the state to embrace educationally oriented prisons as the centerpiece of a correctional strategy aimed at the young male offender. The ideas that informed Coxsackie’s construction in 1935 were deeply rooted in progressive- era critiques of the industrial prison, embraced...
Chapter Two. A New Deal for Prisons: The Politics of Reform in New York
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Austin MacCormick liked to tell stories from the time he spent as a young member of the Boothbay Harbor volunteer fire department, entertaining audiences with tales of the ways in which the small- town firefighters used to attract notice. “We first chop a hole in the roof,” he explained, “and then someone kicks...
Part Two: Prison Lives And The World Of The Reformatory
Chapter Three. Adolescents Adrift: Young Men on the Road to Coxsackie
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For Karl B., the road to prison— the road to Coxsackie— ended just short of his seventeenth birthday.1 Months earlier, he had broken into a Westchester County food market after hours, taking some merchandise and cash. Well known to the local police, Karl was quickly arrested and charged with breaking and entering...
Chapter Four. Against the Wall: Survival and Resistance at Coxsackie
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Years before Rocky Graziano, the fiercely competitive boxer with a powerful punch, became middleweight champion in 1947, he was just another anxious teenager awaiting transportation from the Tombs to Coxsackie. An older prisoner, perhaps to taunt the younger Graziano, warned him: “Don’t kid yourself . . . that’s a...
Chapter Five. Reform at Work: Ideas into Action at Coxsackie
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The New York State Vocational Institution, built from the ground up as a model institution for correctional education, symbolized the rapid progress of liberal reform. The men who carried the flag for the new rehabilitative programs saw themselves blazing a new trail, of sorts, through the prison landscape. Sam...
Chapter Six. A Conspiracy of Frustration: Coming Home
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Like thousands of other young men, Kenny Jackson departed Coxsackie wearing his “State- O” suit, issued to released prisoners, and carrying his “State- O-20”—the twenty dollars (and bus ticket) the reformatory provided. A prison car drove Jackson to the bus depot on a rainy Wed., where the driver left him...
Part Three: The Slow Death Of Prison Reform In New York, 1944– 1977
Chapter Seven. The Frying Pan and the Fire: The Reformatory in Crisis, 1944–1963
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World War II resulted in a substantial reduction to New York’s prison population, as military service drew away thousands of men who might otherwise have been incarcerated, including large numbers of parolees. As that population fell from a prewar peak of 18,400 prisoners to a war time low of 14,894 in...
Chapter Eight. Out of Time: Coxsackie and the End of the Reform Idea
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Just as the Coxsackie reformatory would never have been constructed as it was without an underpinning of reform ideas, its eventual collapse was made possible— one might even say inevitable— by a dramatic retreat from those same ideas. Austin MacCormick’s vision, a New Deal– era project deeply rooted in...
Chapter Nine. Floodtide: Coxsackie and Post-Reformatory Prison Politics, 1963–1977
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In late 1962, Glenn Kendall became Coxsackie’s third superintendent since the reformatory’s opening. He came to the institution as one of the pioneers of New York’s reformatory movement. He had gone to Wallkill Prison from Teachers College, in 1935, to conduct some of the first experimental educational programs...
Conclusion. The Ghost of Prisons Future
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In 1986, Robert A. Mathias, director of the Bud get Education Project for the Correctional Association of New York, prepared a detailed report on the future of prison populations in New York State. In the report, entitled “The Road Not Taken: Cost- Effective Alternatives to Prison for Non- Violent Felony Offenders in...
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Essay on Sources
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The inmate case files from the Coxsackie and Great Meadow reformatories constitute the single most important source of information for this project. These were transferred to the New York State Archives by the New York State Department of Corrections as part of a massive deposit of institutional case files that total more than 2,500 cubic feet of paper...
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Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2014