C. INSTITUTIONAL RECORDS
GREAT MEADOW CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
Great Meadow Correctional Facility is located at Comstock, Washington County. It is classified as a maximum security general confinement facility for males 18 years of age and older and as a detention center for males 16 years of age and older. Inmates assigned to Great Meadow usually are faced with a long period of confinement. Great Meadow presently maintains a population of approximately 1500 inmates.
Opened in 1911, Great Meadow had an early emphasis on habilitation. The institution was designated as an institution for confinement of "young and promising" first-offenders from other prisons, offering opportunities in agricultural and forestry training. The institution represented a dramatic departure from existing correctional concepts, being built without a wall and classified as medium security. Other innovations included the absence of the silent system and other harsher prison practices.
Shortly after its inception, however, Great Meadow's goals and functions began to change. Within a few years, the institution began to receive more serious offenders to relieve overcrowding at other institutions, particularly Sing Sing. Older felons soon became its main population. Discipline was tightened, the rule of silence was imposed, and finally in 1928 a wall was constructed around the institution to transform Great Meadow into another maximum security institution.
Great Meadow's function was changed again in 1954, when it was designated an intermediate reformatory for young adults 18 to 26 years of age who posed disciplinary problems at Elmira and Coxsackie. A major inmate disturbance at Great Meadow in 1955, the first riot in a New York correctional institution in 26 years, led to stricter policies and procedures at the facility.
Great Meadow served as a reformatory until 1970, when it was returned to a maximum security status. In the 1960s and 1970s, the facility developed one of the first narcotics units to assist with inmate problems. As in the case of other State correctional facilities, Great Meadow offers inmates a range of vocational and academic training as part of their program.
14610-88. Inmate case files, ca. 1915-1956. R 320 cu. ft.
Approximately 6,200 case files relate to inmates confined at Great Meadow from approximately 1915 to 1956. Most relate to inmates received after 1925. The case files relate to inmates with consecutive numbers between #7764 and #20540. Because Great Meadow has functioned solely as a transfer institution, case files include records from a number of institutions where inmates were previously confined.