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Care, Custody and Control:
Correction in New York City

The exhibition featured photos, architect drawings and artifacts in eight display units, each with its own theme. The eight display units covered these subjects:

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Rikers Island: Birth of an Island Jail

Display unit included reproduction of the original deed of Rikers Island; photos of landfill expansion of Rikers Island; early keys and handcuffs, photos of Mayor Giuliani at a Correction Officers Graduation and at a City Hall news conference on inmate violence reduction.

CONSTRUCTION NOTES:The City Penitentiary, later called the House of Detention for Men and now known as the James A. Thomas Center, opened on Rikers in 1935, the first permanent jail built on the Island. Its opening allowed the Department to close its aging facilities on an East River island that was then known as Welfare Island and had been known as Blackwells Island but is now named Roosevelt Island. The Penitentiary s opening marked the beginning of Rikers Island as the heart of the City's jail system. The facility was built with block-like architecture. Each block has three tiers with 240 cells each. The jail design was based on a similar structure built in Fresnes, France in 1906.

Keeper Shield

The exhibition put the spotlight on, among other Correction items, the shields worn by officers. Included were the early Keeper badges. Prior to the establishment of a training school on Rikers Island in 1939, Correction Officers were referred to as "prison keepers.".

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Rikers Island: City Within a City

The display unit depicted development of Rikers Island; architect renderings; canine unit; photos of First Deputy Mayor Peter Powers visit to James A. Thomas Center; handcuffs with waist chain; waist restraint for special inmate transfers.

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Rikers Island: Newer Facilities

The display unit featured George R. Vierno Center and the Rose M. Singer Center; photos of Correction's Temporary Headquarters Vehicle; handcuffs and leg irons; architect renderings.

CONSTRUCTION NOTES: To relieve Rikers inmate population pressures, a 500-cell addition was constructed at the George R. Vierno Center (GRVC) in 1993. The original GRVC was built in 1991 and named after a deceased retired Chief of Department. To speed up the opening of the addition, precast concrete construction was used and the jail opened nearly one month ahead of schedule. The addition is comprised of two structures - one consists of 300 cells and the other of 200 cells and both are connected to the main facility.

The use of precast, prestressed concrete modular cells greatly expedited construction and fulfilled the need for a highly functional and durable material. The modular cells were manufactured off-site at a factory while foundations were being dug at Rikers. Each day, between 20 and 30 units were trucked onto the site. Once a four or six tier stack was assembled, the mechanical, plumbing and electrical lines were quickly connected.

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The George R. Vierno Center on Rikers Island shown during contruction in 1991.

The Vernon C. Bain Center and Hart Island

The display unit included photos of VCBC (the floating jail) and Hart Island (Potter's Field); photos of classic DOC vehicles from the 1930s and 1940s; photo of and text about the Rikers Island Bridge; photos of Correction Officers; handcuffs, hand-held metal detector.

CONSTRUCTION NOTES: Moored off the Bronx mainland, across from Rikers Island, this 800-bed medium and maximum security Floating Detention Facility, the first of its kind to be built, was developed to ease overcrowded jail conditions. The vessel utilizes the scale, function and construction methods inherent to shipbuilding. Built by Avondale Industries of New Orleans and opened in 1991, it is 625 feet long, 125 feet wide and five decks high with a mezzanine and roof deck.

The barge includes inmate housing units, office space, a galley, health and social services areas, a library, gymnasium and 12,000 square feet of rooftop outdoor recreation. Inmate housing facilities consist of 700 medium security beds in 14 dormitory style units and 100 maximum security beds in two units of 50 cells each. Satellite control rooms provide staff with clear sight lines to inmate occupied areas. Housing units receive natural light from fixed windows with security glazing and screens. Vernon C. Bain, for whom the facility is named, was a well-liked warden who died in an automobile accident.

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Houses of Detention: The Four Borough Jails

The display unit included a compilation of historic photos of DOC's borough facilities including the Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan Houses of Detention; inmate food trays from 1945; historic "Prison Keepers" List of DOC employees from 1936; sneakers containing hidden compartment for razor baldes which were recovered during routine mailroom package check at Correctional Institution for Men.

CONSTRUCTION NOTES: The Brooklyn House of Detention for Men was originally built in 1957. It cost $10,642,000. Its architecture is typical of the borough jails. Their location in densely populated neighborhoods requires the use of high-rise buildings. This differs from the early facilities on Rikers Island which are low-rise and spread out.

This single-cell jail houses 815 adult males. Most of them are awaiting trial in Brooklyn and Staten Island courts. It was the first modern jail to be built in NYC. This jail was recently expanded and the new facilities include areas for inmate receiving, health services, staff support and visitors. The first and second floor additions are faced with a salmon colored polished granite, echoing the original base of the building. The project architect for the addition is the son of the original architect.

The Brooklyn House of Detention for Men, shown in architect rendering, opened in 1956.

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The Borough Jails: Changing to Meet New Needs

The display unit showed changes to the borough facilities in the last 30 years; architect renderings, photo of Correction's Emergency Response Unit; compilation of contraband weapons recovered from inmates in jails; text about the Department's Violence Reduction Initiative.

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The Historic "Tombs:" The Manhattan Detention Complex

The display unit included photos of several versions of Tombs jails in lower Manhattan; architect renderings; replicas of sculptures by artists Richard Haas and Kit Yin Snyder which grace the front of the Manhattan Detention Complex today.

CONSTRUCTION NOTES:The Manhattan Detention Complex (White and Centre Streets), accommodates over 800 inmates. It is the third generation of the original facility dubbed "The Tombs" in the mid-1800s because it had been modeled on an Egyptian-style mausoleum. Part of the current jail opened in 1941, replacing a second generation facility built in 1902. Despite the latter's fortress-like appearance due to the Scottish Baronial Castle style of architecture, that successor jail continued to be called The Tombs. The present facility, bearing no resemblance to either of its predecessors, still carries the colloquial Tombs title.

The newer part of the facility, comprised of 500 beds, was opened in 1988.

The facility provides a transition between civic buildings to the south, commercial buildings to the west and the small residential scale of Chinatown to the east. The community was involved in the planning process. Using jointly developed ideas, the project team created the first mixed-use jail in which street frontage is set aside for commercial and community use with inmates confined to the tower. The consolidation of the program into a tall tower left one third of the property available for future senior citizen housing.

Richard Haas and Kit Yin Snyder began a collaboration on the sculpture program for the White Street Jail in the mid-1980s.Most of the work was completed in 1990. Mr. Haas tells the story of justice in two cultures, "Solomon's Judgement" and Pao Kung's "Chalk Circle," using reliefs attached to the facility bridge. Other facade relief panels tell the story of immigration on the Lower East Side.

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Hidden Razor in Sneaker
One display unit provided an example of how inmates attempt to have contraband items smuggled in to make weapons. The pair of sneakers, with razor blades hidden inside one of them, were mailed to an inmate this June. But an alert Officer at the Correctional Institution for Men on Rikers Island discovered the contraband during a routine check of packages.

New York's Boldest: Correction Officers in New York City Jails

The display unit included photos of Correction Officers of past and present; text on the history of the Correction Officer; photo of DOC's Emergency Response Unit; photo of past shields of the Department; Folger-Adams keys, used to lock and unlock New York City jails for years, leg-irons.

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