New York House of Refuge
Twentieth Century Changes 1900-1935
In the new century efforts increased to individualize inmate treatment. The Female Division was transferred to the new House of Refuge for Women in Bedford. The vocational education program was expanded and more parole agents were hired. A staff psychologist conducted intelligence and psychological tests, especially to identify inmates needing remedial education. Nevertheless, continuing complaints about vocational training and discipline procedures resulted in investigations by the Board of Charities in 1903-1904 and again in 1908-1909. Despite increasing state regulation, criticism continued, focusing on the institution's outdated physical plant, urban location, and concentrated facilities.
The urban reformatory, a product of nineteenth century philanthropic reform, was being replaced by new state institutions in rural areas where there was more opportunity to follow the "cottage plan" first initiated in Lancaster, Ohio in 1857 and influential after the Civil War. As early as 1906, the Society was authorized to exchange its property for a new rural location, but no suitable site was found. Successive legislative measures designated the State Training School for Boys at Warwick for inmates under sixteen, and the State Vocational School at Coxsackie for those sixteen to nineteen as the successor state institutions for the New York House of Refuge (Ch. 412, Laws of 1929; Ch. 538, Laws of 1932). Finally in 1935, the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents in New York City dissolved and the institution on Randalls Island closed.