Between 1876 and 1913, seventeen states duplicated the first reformatory established in Elmira, New York. The main emphasis of the system was on reforming youths through vocational training and academic education. Elmira claimed to have a rehabilitation rate of 80 percent where prisons at that time claimed a rehabilitation of only 40 percent.
Another significant difference between prisons and reformatories was the sentencing structure that was used. Prisons during that time set fixed sentences, such as 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. These sentences were reduced by "good time", generally one day served for one day earned "good time". Reformatories also introduced the concept of indeterminate sentences, such as 1-10 years, 3-10 years, etc. Inmates could shorten indeterminate sentences by exhibiting good behavior while in prison.
The reformatory was structured to handle inmates between the ages of 16 and 30 who had not previously served time in prison. The reformatory concept divided the inmates into classes. When an inmate entered the reformatory he was placed into the Intermediate Grade where he remained for six months. If he exhibited good behavior, good working habits and went to school, at the end of the six months period he was promoted to First Grade. After another six months, the inmate could become eligible for parole if the inmate had no problems. If the inmate had become a disciplinary problem, refused to work or did not meet the criteria of parole, the inmate was reduced back to the Third Grade another six months, then promoted to the Second Grade for six months and finally once again to the First Grade.
Kansas State Industrial Reformatory (KSIR)
In the mid 1880s, the State of Kansas recognized the need for a reformatory in Kansas.
KSIR came into existence in 1885 when Governor John Martin signed a bill that authorized the purchase of land to build a reformatory. Following concerns that the state institutions were all located in the eastern part of the state, legislation was passed that any new institutions had to be built in the western half of the state. The western half of the state was designated as the area west of Highway 81. Several cities and towns in Kansas wanted the reformatory located in their areas and these towns included Belleville, McPherson, Newton, Wichita and Hutchinson.
The city of Hutchinson raised $25,000 and offered the state a choice of two sites. One was north and west of Hutchinson and the other was south of Hutchinson on land owned by S.W. Campbell.
A group called the Hutchinson Sewing Circle also donated $1,000 to the fund in order to purchase land for the reformatory. The group was not as innocent a group as it appears as these women were a group of prostitutes who were operating within the Hutchinson city limits. They felt that the reformatory was a good concept and that youth should be separated from adults in the prison system.
On July 9, 1885 news reached the City of Hutchinson that Hutchinson had been selected as the site for the new reformatory. A holiday was declared and the people of Hutchinson celebrated their from noon until late in the evening. The newspaper gives the account that Main Street was crowded with throngs of people, bells were sounded, fireworks were shot off and all celebrated and jollified for the entire day.
The legislature had appropriated $60,000 in order to build the reformatory. A contract was let to the firm of Evans and Bricker to build one cellblock that would house 100 men. The cellblock was to be 184 feet long by 66 feet wide. On November 19, 1885 the first shovel of dirt was turned and construction was underway. It was originally projected that the first cellblock would be completed by August 1, 1886. By February of 1886 workmen were on the site, most of them were stonecutters. The Sante Fe Railroad had built a spur to the reformatory site and over 100 carloads of limestone, ashler and footing had arrived. The limestone, quarried around Florence, came in lengths of 5 feet to 14 feet and approximately 1 foot thick. By March of 1886, approximately 60 stonecutters were working at the site.
Numerous delays were experienced in building the reformatory. For the years 1886 and 1887, the legislature failed to appropriate any funds to continue construction. By March 10, 1887 all of the funds that had been appropriated were exhausted and it was estimated that another $300,000 would be needed in order to complete the cellblock. By September 1887, the Hutchinson News announced that it was predicted that it would take another five years to complete the reformatory and possibly even ten years. On January 6, 1890, S.K. Hawley was appointed superintendent to supervise the construction work at the reformatory. Once again the legislature of 1891 and 1892 failed to appropriate any funds for the continuing work on the reformatory and no work was done for the next four years.
In 1894, Governor Merrill running on the populist ticket in Kansas promised that if he were elected governor a reformatory would be completed in 1895. Governor Merrill was elected and held true to his promise. In August 1895 a 50-man brick cellhouse was completed and the first 30 inmates were transferred from the Kansas StatePennitentiary (Lansing) to KSIR. Unfortunately, however, the first cellhouse was constructed of Hutchinson Brick which was made from clay that was dug out of the banks of the Arkansas River. This clay had so much sand in it that most buildings built of Hutchinson Brick deteriorated rapidly.
S.W. Cass became the reformnatory's first superintendent and one of his first tasks was to dig a sewage ditch from the reformatory to Cow Creek. Today, the ditch's remnants are still visible near the kennels. The first inmates that came to the reformatory worked from sun-up to sun-down and attended school after the supper meal line. Work began in earnest on the first cellhouse in 1895 and was soon completed. The second cellhouse was completed in 1906. Both cellhouses were tied together by the rotunda which at that time was the administration building.
By 1898, 185 inmates were housed at the reformatory. From 1895 to 1898, 240 inmates had been received and 270 paroles had been granted. In 1899, Warden Cass was replaced by Mr. Simmons who became the reformatory's second warden. The first occupation that was learned by the inmates was that of stonecutting. Many of the buildings that were built in Kansas around the turn of the century were built by men who were ex-inmates and had learned the trade of stonecutting at the reformatory.
In June of 1904. the foundation for the construction of a a wall was laid. In 1905 the legislature approved funds to build the wall and a stand pipe in the east yard. The stand pipe and the wall were completed early in 1907 along with a third cellhouse. The wall itself is 20 feet high, 3 feet across at the top and 15-16 feet at the bottom. It is perpendicular inside but an inmate would have to take a healthy jump in order to clear the bottom of the wall without breaking his leg.
The enabling act, legislation that was passed in 1895, allowed for both sexes to be incarcerated at the reformatory. From the period between 1898 and 1900, two females were sent by court to KSIR. Both were returned to the sentencing court and the law was corrected in 1900. In 1900 it became apparent that there was a need for a parole and transfer officer in order to pick up parole violators who were released from the reformatory. In 1901, the legislature passed a law that allowed for the first parole officer to be established at KSIR. Again, the legislature failed to appropriate a salary for the parole officer and the first years wages were drawn from the inmate sustenance fund. From the time the reformatory opened until 1900, the Department of Corrections had acted under the assumption that it had the right to transfer inmates from KSIR to KSP. In 1900 one of the inmates took exception to this rule and filed a suit in local court. The lower court ruled that it was unconstitutional for KSIR to transfer recalculant inmates to the state penitentiary for any reason. KSIR did not except this ruling and appealed it to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the position of KSIR and handed down a ruling that Department of Corrections does have the right to transfer any inmate to any facility that it sees fit to.
Prior to December 19, 1903. there had never been a successful escape from KSIR. On the night of December 19, 1903 an inmate by the name of Elmer Slider, who was a trustee at the director's residence, slipped off into the darkness and was never heard from again. In 1903 the reformatory adopted the policy of photographing all incoming inmates. Pictures were taken to aid the parole and transfer officer and law enforcement agencies in apprehending parole violators who had absconded from supervision. A section of grassland north of Hutchinson was purchased by the reformatory in February 1903 for grazing cattle. When the reformatory's farming operation was abandoned in 1976, the land was returned to the State and is currently the Sandhills State Park, located north of Hutchinson.
All inmates at KSIR went to school for two hours every night after a regular 8-hour work day. They also went to school all day on stormy days and on Saturdays. In September 1896, the medical department reported that it had written 800 prescriptions in the first year and that there was much gonorrhea and syphilis that had been noted and treated. The medical department reported that it spent $15.29 per month per inmate. Inmates during this period of time were issued $.10 work of tobacco per month. Those who did not smoke or use tobacco were awarded $.10 on their account that was issued to them upon release.
In November 1901, an inmate named William Reedy was admitted to the reformatory from Leavenworth County. Several days after being admitted, the inmate went into the Rotunda and smashed a glass jar on the floor. He also had a handful of nails which he put into his mouth along with the broken glass and swallowed digested. The security staff thought that the inmate was trying to commit suicide and rushed him to the hospital for fear that the glass and nails would puncture his stomach. At the hospital Reedy said he was a professional glass eater and that nothing would happen to him. After several days of observation, no ill effects were noted and Reedy was returned to the reformatory. Upon checking inmate Reedy's records it was found that he had been convicted in Leavenworth County of stealing a cut glass punch bowl and cups worth approximately $500.00 which he reportedly crushed and ate.
After the wall and cellhouses were completed in 1907 the question of what to do with the inmates arose. The staff got together and rated the needs of the inmates as the following: chaplaincy services or religious training was rated #1; physical health was rated #2; learning a vocational training was rated #3 and education was rated #4 on the list. The education and chaplaincy staff consisted of a Chaplain and three teachers. In 1908, C.A. Richards became the first director of the education and vocational department and he recruited numerous volunteers. In 1908, there were 13 trade school benches located at the reformatory though most were left empty due to poor wages paid to the instructors. The term "guards" was changed to "correctional officers" in 1907 when it was noted that the men in these positions were more that just guards. It was felt that the term "guard" indicated that the men stood around all day and guarded inmates. Even in the early days it was noted that correctional officers did more than just guard as they had to counsel inmates and help them in various different fields. Most of the best correctional officers left because of low wages.
Mr. Richards became superintendent in 1911. However after less than a year, he resigned and was replaced by Mr. Amrine. Superintendent Amrine served for 22 months, during which a road was completed from the reformatory to A Street and was named Reformatory Avenue. Irrigation was started during Mr. Amrine's tour of duty and four cuttings of hay were made the first year. J.N. Herr became the superintendent in 1912 after Mr. Amrine resigned. Superintendent Herr ended the policy of charging people a dime to tour the reformatory. In 1914, Superintendent Herr returned $20,000 that had been appropriated for funding the reformatory to the legislature. A new dairy barn was built at the cost of $4,500 in 1916 to replace an old and deteriorated one. During World War I, reformatory's population dropped from 430 to 326 by January of 1918. Most of the inmates that wanted to volunteer for the draft were given that option rather than serving their prison term. A further note indicated that most of the inmates that served in World War I were good soldiers and received honorable discharges. During the years between 1916 and 1918, leaves were granted to inmates from 30 to 90 days in order to assist area farmers in bringing in the crops.
LEGAL HANGINGS IN KANSAS
|*1862 - July 11||Pvt. John Bell||Iola||Military|
|1863 - Feb.||Carl Horne||Leavenworth||State|
|*1863 - May 6||John Shirley||Fort Leavenworth||Military|
|*1863 - May 27||Claudous C. Frizell||Fort Scott||Military|
|1863 - Oct. 30||Williams Griffith||Mound City||State|
|1865 - Dec. 29||John Hundley||Lawrence||State|
|1866 - Jan.19||Ernest Wa-tee-cha||Lawrence||State|
|1866 - Aug.10||Ben Lewis||Paola||State|
|1867 - Feb. 20||Martin W. Bates||Burlingame||State|
|1867 - Nov. 15||Scott Holderman||Lawrence||State|
|1868 - Sept. 18||Melvin E. Baughn||Seneca||State|
|1870 - Aug. 9||Williams Dickson||Leavenworth||State|
|1887 - Nov. 15||Lee Mosier||Wichita||Federal|
|1888 - Nov. 21||Jake Tobler||Wichita||Federal|
|1888 - Nov. 21||Joe Tobler||Wichita||Federal|
|1930 - Sept. 5||Carl Panzran||U.S.P., Leavenworth||Federal|
|1938 - Aug. 12||Robert J. Suhay||U.S.P., Leavenworth||Federal|
|1938 - Aug. 12||Glen J. Applegate||U.S.P., Leavenworth||Federal|
|1944 - March 10||Ernest Hoefgen||HCFHCFF (Marion County)||State|
|1944 - April 15||Fred L. Brady||HCFHCFF (Cowley County)||State|
|1944 - April 15||Clark B. Knox||HCFHCFF (Wyandotte County)||State|
|1947 - July 29||Cecil Tate||HCFHCFF (Kingman County)||State|
|1947 - July 29||George F. Gumtow||HCFHCFF (Kingman County)||State|
|1950 - May 6||George Miller||HCFHCFF (Miami County)||State|
|1951 - April 6||Preston McBride||HCFHCFF (Reno County)||State|
|1952 - Jan. 5||James Lanmore||HCFHCFF (Doniphan County)||State|
|1954 - May 21||Nathaniel Germany||HCFHCFF (Wyandotte County)||State|
|1954 - July 16||Merle Williams Martin||HCFHCFF (Johnson County)||State|
|*1954 - July 31||Bernard J. Obrien||Fort Leavenworth||Military|
|*1955 - March 1||Chastine Beverly||Fort Leavenworth||Military|
|*1955 - March 1||James L. Riggins||Fort Leavenworth||Military|
|*1955 - March 1||Louis M. Suttles||Fort Leavenworth||Military|
|*1957 - Feb. 14||Winfred D. Moore||USDB
|*1957 - Feb. 14||Thomas J. Edwards||USDB
|*1957 - April 3||Ernest L. Ranson||USDB
|*1958 - July 23||Abraham Thomas||USDB
|*1959-Sept. 23||John E. Day||USDB Fort Leavenworth||Military|
|*1961 - April 13||John A. Bennett||USDB Fort Leavenworth||Military|
|1962- Nov. 30||Lowell Lee Andrews||HCFHCFF (Wyandotte County)||State|
|1965 - April 14||Richard Eugene Hickock||HCFHCFF (Finney County)||State|
|1965 - April 14||Perry Edward Smith||HCFHCFF (Finney County)||State|
|1965 - June 22||James Douglas Latham||HCFHCFF (Russell County)||State|
|1965 - June 22||George Ronald York||HCFHCFF (Russell County)||State|
*Kansas State Penitentiary gallows used for the execution of military prisoners from the United States Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
NOTE: The above list, less the executions in 1965, was prepared several years ago in the office of the Director of Penal Institutions, Topeka, Kansas. Omitted from this list, we suppose erroneously, were 16 executions by hanging carried out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Of these, 15 were carried out at the USDB and of this number, 14 were German Prisoners of War, all of whom had been convicted of murder committed while confined in PW camps in the United States. Those executions of Prisoners of War in July and August, 1945, could not be carried out until after the German government had been notified of the sentences through the neutral Swiss government. The names of the U.S. soldiers, one executed by Fort Leavenworth authorities in 1942-43, the other at the USDB, Fort Leavenworth, in 1946-47, and the exact dates of execution are not available in this office (KSP).