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The Furnace of AfflictionPrisons and Religion in Antebellum America$
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Jennifer Graber

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834572

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877838_graber

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The Furnace Transformed, 1840–1847

The Furnace Transformed, 1840–1847

(p.135) 5 The Furnace Transformed, 1840–1847
The Furnace of Affliction

Jennifer Graber

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes how Sing Sing's resident chaplain went to the head prison inspector to plead the case of a suicidal inmate. The inspector, a New York judge named John Edmonds, usually supported Sing Sing's notoriously severe regime. He led an inspectors' board aligned with Albany Democrats, who traditionally favored tough prison discipline focused on order and profit. According to the chaplain's memoir, the inmate in question deliberately provoked keepers, hoping to incite a fatal beating. He sought immediate death over the “slow death by the cat[-o'-nine-tails]” he would endure if he served out his sentence. To the chaplain's surprise, Inspector Edmonds appeared moved by the story. Edmonds visited the inmate and stopped the keepers from lashing him.

Keywords:   Sing Sing, resident chaplain, head prison inspector, suicidal inmate, John Edmonds, New York judge

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