Women Behind Bars Riot!


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April 30, 1958, Vol. III, No. 27

Villagers Watch as Women Riot In Local Prison

A prison riot last Saturday night that began with girls shouting ended 2 1/2 hours later with fire trucks standing by. At the height of the disturbance the inmates of the Women’s House of Detention, Greenwich Avenue and 10th Street, drew a crowd of several thousand Villagers by tossing flaming bedclothes from their windows.

The outbreak, which began on the sixth floor with a fight between two girls, caught on quickly and spread to the rest of the building. The inmates shouted down to the spectators, who were kept at a distance only through the strenuous efforts of the police, that they were being starved and beaten.

A number of people in the crowd were apparently relatives and friends of the imprisoned women. One man standing on Greenwich Avenue cupped his hands and called out whenever there was a lull in the excitement: “Essie, I’m here.”

Correction Commissioner Anna Kross, following the riot, blamed overcrowding and lack of personnel for the trouble. She denied that the girls had been beaten or were not getting enough food, but admitted the food budget had been cut. The girls had matches because they are allowed to smoke, she said.

Mrs. Kross had announced shortly after her appointment as commissioner, that the Village building should be abandoned as obsolete as soon as the projected women’s prison is erected on an island in the East River.

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