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Sing Sing

Lawes, Lewis E.

Published by Lewis E. Lawes, Ossining, NY, 1933
Condition: Good
From Ground Zero Books, Ltd. (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

[2], 27, [1] pages. Illustrations. Cover worn and soiled. Scarce. The author was the prison's warden. Lewis Edward Lawes (September 13, 1883 - April 23, 1947) was a prison warden and a proponent of prison reform. During his 21-year tenure at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, he supervised the executions of 303 prisoners. He worked at first Auburn Prison, then Elmira Reformatory. In March 1915 he was named Superintendent of the City Reformatory on Hart Island in New York City. Lawes became warden of the Massachusetts State Prison in 1918. New York Governor Al Smith asked him to take over as Warden of Sing Sing. Lawes took charge on January 1, 1920. He was featured on the cover and in an article of Time magazine issue of November 18, 1929. Lawes wrote several books. Several of his works were made into films. His most famous book, Twenty Thousand Years in Sing Sing, was made into a 1932 movie under the same title, starring Spencer Tracy, and again in 1940 as Castle on the Hudson, featuring John Garfield. Invisible Stripes in 1939, with George Raft, was based on his novel of the same name, while Humphrey Bogart starred in You Can't Get Away with Murder in 1939, an adaptation of Chalked Out, a play Lawes co-wrote. His papers are archived in the Special Collections of the Lloyd Sealy Library, John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Sing Sing Correctional Facility is a maximum security prison operated by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in the village of Ossining, in the U.S. state of New York. It is located about 30 miles (50 km) north of New York City on the east bank of the Hudson River. In 1970, the name of the facility was changed to "Ossining Correctional Facility" but, in 1985, it reverted to its original name. "Sing Sing" was derived from the name of a Native American Nation, "Sinck Sinck" (or "Sint Sinck"), from whom the land was purchased in 1685. Sing Sing prison confines about 1,700 prisoners. There are plans to convert the original 1825 cell block into a time specific museum. The prison property is bisected by the Metro-North Railroad's four-track Hudson Line. Sing Sing was the fifth prison built by New York State. In 1824, the New York Legislature gave Elam Lynds, warden of Auburn Prison and a former Army captain, the task of constructing a new prison. Lynds decided to build a prison on Mount Pleasant, near (and thus named after) a small village in Westchester County named Sing Sing, whose name came from the Native American words "Sinck Sinck" which translates to "stone upon stone".[9] The legislature appropriated $20,100 to purchase the 130-acre (0.53 km2) site, and the project received the official stamp of approval. Lynds hand-selected 100 inmates from the Auburn prison for transfer and had them transported by barge via the Erie Canal and down the Hudson River to freighters. When it was opened in 1826, Sing Sing was considered a model prison, because it turned a profit for the state, and by October 1828, was finally completed. A notable warden was Lewis Lawes. He was offered the position of warden in 1919, accepted in January 1920, and remained for 20 years as Sing Sing's warden. While warden, Lawes brought about reforms and turned what was described as an "old hellhole" into a modern prison with sports teams, educational programs, new methods of discipline and more. Several new buildings were also constructed during the years Lawes was warden. Lawes retired in 1941 after 21 years as warden and died six years later. The original 1825 cellblock is no longer used and in 2002 plans were announced to turn this into a museum. In total, 614 men and women-including four inmates under federal death sentences-were executed by electric chair in the death row house with "Old Sparky", at Sing Sing. High-profile executions include Julius and Ethel Rosenberg on June 19, 1953, for espionage for the Soviet Union on nuclear weapon research; and Gerhard A. Puff on August 12, 1954, for murder of an FB. Bookseller Inventory # 73366

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Sing Sing

Publisher: Lewis E. Lawes, Ossining, NY

Publication Date: 1933

Binding: Pamphlet

Book Condition: Good

Edition: 1st Edition

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Founded and operated by trained historians, Ground Zero Books, Ltd., serves the book collector, the scholar, and institutions. We focus on the individual, and pride ourselves on our personal service. Please contact us with your wants, as we have many books not yet listed in our database.

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P.O. Box 8369, Silver Spring, MD 20907-8369. You can reach us by phone at 301-
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Books, Ltd., is owned & operated by R. Alan Lewis & Lynne Haims.

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