Calhoun Jail Conditions Investigated in 1908


Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 4/7/1908.

How Calhoun Cares for its Prisoners
Results of an Investigation of the Jail at Grantsville, West Virginia

Charities and The Commons, an organization for the advancement of the welfare of the poor and Criminal Class of our country, recently sent a representative here to investigate the condition of the Grantsville Jail, and the following report is the result of it:

It is a pretty bad case that the American Prison Association has found against the average county jail in this country.  For a year past hundreds of trained men and women have been working on investigations and compiling results and now the Association is prepared to announce just what conditions were found.  To state that, generally speaking, county jails are "schools for crime" is putting it mildly.  The general report of the committee, appearing on another page of this issue, tells of the conditions as found in different parts of the country.  A special investigation was made of the jail in this county and the question for this community to answer is whether or not the Calhoun County Jail comes up to the minimum standard set by Professor Henderson and his committee.

The Calhoun County Jail is a small institution with only two cells both for men and women.  The size of the cells is 10 by 12 feet.  When the inspection was made there were three men in the jail.  There is no chance for exercise or occupation.  Aside from the separation of the sexes, there is little attempt at classification.  Boys are not kept apart from the worst prisoners and probably children are sometimes kept in the same cells.

There are no religious services in the jail, nor is any reading matter furnished, except what is donated.  The in and out fees are 25 cents.  There are no rules governing officers or prisoners, nor is there any punishment for violation of rules.

Board is furnished at a cost of 50 cents a day.  Beds are of iron and the bedding is washed about twice a month.  There are no rules about the changing of underclothing and the county does not furnish changes.

The building is artificially lighted by natural gas, heated by natural gas and ventilated by windows.  There are no closets in the jail, night buckets being used exclusively.  There are no regulations for the prisoners bathing and if there are were there are no baths for this purpose.  The building is said to be clean and the condition of the plumbing good.