The United States is home to 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison population. The correctional industry makes a lot of money for some people.
There are a few famous prisons that have become part of popular culture.from alcatraz to Ohio State Reformatory, you can even visit these famous jails and shop at their gift shops. It’s a crazy concept when you think about it.
One of the oldest and most famous prisons in the United States is the Sing Sing Correctional Institution. You may have heard of it, but do you understand it? Time to get into today’s topic: Where is Sing Sing Prison?
In this blog post, I’ll cover the following topics:
- Where is Xinxin?
- Sin Sing Prison has a long history
- Famous prisoners of Sing Sing
- Is Sing Sing still open?
Where is Xinxin?
If you’ve ever heard the term “upstream,” you must have heard it originate from the Sing Sing Correctional Institution. When you send someone “upstream,” it means they’re heading to prison. The expression dates back to 1891, when those convicted in New York City were sentenced to Sing Sing, located 30 miles north of the Hudson River.
Sing Sing Correctional Facility takes its name from the words of the Sinstink Indian tribe and Native Americans Sink Sink, which translates to “stone on stone”. The tribe sold the land on which the prison stood, as well as the village where the facility was located, in 1685. It is now known as The Village of Ossining, New York.
Sin Sing Prison has a long history
Construction began in 1824 on Sing Sing Prison, the fifth prison built in New York State. It was built along the Hudson River in the town of Mount Pleasant and the village now known as Ossining.
The original 1825 Cellblock is considered a “rare example of confinement architecture”. The massive stone walls still stand, a building that greatly influenced the American penal system.
At the time, the 1825 Cellblock was the largest prison in the world. It is 476 feet long and 44 feet wide, and was originally four stories high. There are a total of 800 cells inside, designed to hold one man, but they usually have two.
The cells were about the size of a modern yoga mat, about seven feet long, three feet wide, and seven inches high. They would eventually add two more floors to the building to house 1,000 prisoners.
Nicknamed “The Big House” and “The Castle on the Hudson,” the 1825 cell is considered the best prison program in the world.
The first prisoners arrived in 1826, and the facility was immediately regarded by the state of New York as a model prison for the profit it made for them. Construction was completed in 1828 and the first warden was a man named Elam Lynds. He uses the Auburn system at Sing Sing, which means the prisoners must remain absolutely silent. Staff enforce these harsh rules by whipping prisoners and using other forms of physical punishment.
Linds was removed from office in 1843 after Prison Chaplain John Luckey made Linds accountable to New York Governor William H. Seward. Luckey set out to build a vast religious library at Sing Sing to teach the prisoners proper moral principles.
In the 1840s, Sing Sing abandoned the strict method of silence and began allowing prisoners to engage in social activities and focus on recovery rather than their criminal past. Still, the facility is pretty demanding. It wasn’t until the 1920s that Warden Lewis Lawes transformed Sing Sing from the “old hell” into a more modern facility.
During Lawes’ 21 years as warden, Sing Sing had sports teams, educational programs and a new approach to discipline. During his tenure, they also built new buildings and eventually closed the original cell block in 1825.
A total of 614 men and women were executed by electric chair at Sing Sing when the death penalty was still legal in New York. The nickname of this chair is “Old Spark”. The state abolished the death penalty in 1972. On June 19, 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed to a high profile at Sing Sing.
Famous prisoners of Sing Sing
Besides the Rosenberg family, other notable inmates who have served time at Sing Sing include:
- Paul Geidel – One of the longest-serving prison inmates in American history. He served 68 years and 296 days in prisons throughout New York State.
- George C. Parker – Conman known for “selling” the Brooklyn Bridge
- Toni Sirico – actor who played the role of Paoli Gaultieri The Sopranos
- Raymond Fernandez and Martha Baker – Known as the Lonely Heart Killers
Is Sing Sing still open?
Believe it or not, Sun Sun Correctional Institution It is still in operation today. It is currently a maximum security facility for male inmates operated by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. It currently houses around 1,700 prisoners.
There is a proposal to build a Sing Sing museum at the 1825 Cellblock and 1936 Powerhouse. The plan is to provide Powerhouse with an exhibition gallery and meeting space. The factory, located on the outskirts of the prison, used to produce all the coal power for the prison, including the electric chair.
Since the 1825 Cellblock is located on the prison grounds, it was planned to connect it to the Powerhouse exhibits via a 400-foot corridor.
Do you know anyone imprisoned in Sing Sing? Let us know in the comments below.