Infamous Prisons: Sing Sing I

Named after the Sin Sinck Native Americans that originally lived in New York, Sing Sing prison was built from 1825 to 1828. Starting in the late 1800s, the prison executed many murderers by electrocution in the electric chair. In 1969, Sing Sing was renamed Ossining Correctional Facility. In this article, you will learn more about the history of the prison, which could certainly make a case for having unsettled souls lingering on the premises.

History of Sing Sing

In the town of Ossining, New York, you will find a well-known maximum security prison called Sing Sing, which is run by the New York State Department of Correctional Services. Located about 30 miles north of New York City on the on the bank of the Hudson River, the prison can hold around 1,700 inmates. Sing Sing was the third prison constructed by New York State and it has a history that traces back to 1685 when the land was purchased from the Native Americans that lived in the region.

The New York Legislature gave Elam Lynds (who was the warden of Auburn Prison) the responsibility of building a prison that was newer and more modern. The former Army captain spent months researching places where the new facility should go. He considered Staten Island, the Bronx, and the town of Mount Pleasant. Lynds settled on Mount Pleasant, which was a located close to a small village. Once he received full confirmation, Lynds handpicked 100 inmates from his own private stock to transfer to the town. They traveled on a barge along the Erie Canal to freighters down the Hudson River.

When they reached the town, the inmates were greeted by a place that did not have a way to receive them , there wasn’t even a wall to keep them enclosed in one area. There was a temporary barracks, cook house, carpenter shop and blacksmith shop that were rushed to get finished. Sing Sing was opened in 1826 and was considered a good example for what a prison should be like. Not only did it contain its inmates well, but it also turned a profit for the state. To keep the inmates in line, Lynds used a system that imposed absolute silence on the prisoners. If they were out of line, the guards whipped the inmates and inflicted other brutal punishments.

Under Osbourne’s Watch

As the prison entered the 20th century, the warden Thomas Mott Osbourne briefly held the position, but was responsible for a dramatic change at the prison. Osbourne came to Sing Sing in 1914 and with him came a reputation for radical prison reform. Osbourne would infiltrate a prison and document all of the activity of the inmates, as well as the staff. If he came across inmates or liked to intimidate the prisoners, he made sure they lost their privileges. Osbourne became a target because of his strict policies. One inmate with strong political ties tried to destroy Osbourne’s reputation and even succeeded in getting him indicted on bogus charges. Osbourne beat the accusations in court and when he returned to Sing Sing, most of the inmates were pleased to have him back.