December 20, 1909


Improvements Make All Cells Sani-
tary -- Shower Baths Provided
and Fumigator to De-
stroy Germs.

The interior of the workhouse has taken on quite a different aspect in the last few days, important improvements having been completed. The ceilings and walls are painted white, the latter having a heavy coat of red about six feet up from the floor. All of the cells have a new coat of shiny black enamel.

Until the recent improvements, each cell was unsanitary, being equipped with nothing but an old bucket. Now every cell is provided with a sanitary plumbing outfit. It took one month to dig a sewer inside the cell block and make the necessary connections. Outside the work could have been done in a week or ten days, but there the dirt had to be carried out in small boxes. The sewer is from five to seven feet deep and before dirt was reached it was necessary to dig through four inches of solid concrete, chisel through a steel plate one-eighth of an inch thick and then pick the way through eighteen inches more of solid concrete. This is laid beneath the floor to prevent any escapes by tunneling. As it took fully three weeks to reach terra firma it is not likely that anyone would succeed in completing a tunnel before being captured.

There also is a new system regarding mattresses and bedding. When a new prisoner arrives he gets a fresh, clean mattress, stuffed with clean straw. When the prisoner leaves the straw is burned and the bed tick washed. The cleaning method continues with regard to blankets. When a prisoner leaves his blanket goes direct to the laundry. If he is a long term man his blanket is washed and he gets a clean one two or three times a month. He also gets a fresh bed tick with new straw frequently.


At the east end of the cell block is a new washroom with a dozen bowls. Across the corridor are shower baths. Both have hot and cold water and plenty of soap. A prisoner is required to bathe on entering the workhouse, all of his discarded clothing going to the fumigator. He also is examined by the workhouse physician, Dr. F. H. Berry. His physical condition also is looked after. For the first time since it was built the workhouse now is absolutely free of any kind of vermin, and Superintendent Cornelius Murphy says he intends to keep it that way.

When a prisoner's clothes go to the fumigator they are not afterwards packed away in a bag and given to him all full of wrinkles when he leaves the place. In the workhouse now is a tailor who understands cleaning, pressing and mending. After leaving the fumigator the underclothing and linen go to the laundry where they are washed and ironed. The outer clothing goes to the tailor who repairs, cleans and presses it. When a prisoner leaves the institution now he often finds his "makeup" in far better condition than when he entered.

"The scheme of putting a prisoner's clothing in good condition," said C. A. Beatty, assistant superintendent, "has proven a good one and the men greatly appreciate it. It does not send a poor man away looking like a trap, but he has a good 'front' and is fit to apply to any man for work. The prison clothes worn by the men are washed frequently and the men are required to take baths often. It is new to many but they are getting used to it."


In the sewing room, established at the personal expense of William Volker, president of the board of pardons and paroles, all of the bed ticks as well as the clothing worn by both men and women prisoners, are made by women prisoners. One young woman who had been a frequent inmate of the institution now is earning $2.25 a day at a local mattress factory. Others are earning an honest living at overall factories. They learned to sew under the instruction of Mrs. Burnett, who has charge of the sewing room. Some never had done any stitching.

Another adjunct to the workhouse, which has proved a success, is the shoemaking department. A practical shoemaker, hired at the expense of Mr. Volker, is instructing the long term men how to be shoe cobblers and some are learning how to make shoes throughout. The shoes of all prisoners are overhauled and mended in this department. The shoeshop and sewing rooms are located over the barn and are heated by steam.

There are thirty-five men now out at the industrial farm at Leeds. They are now engaged at present in making a new roadway, but in the summer they are going to learn practical farming and gardening. This, too, has proven a success.