Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center
Entrance in Hunts Point, Bronx
|Location||Bronx, New York|
|Managed by||New York City Department of Corrections|
|Street address||1 Halleck Street|
|City||Bronx, New York City|
|Country||United States of America|
The Vernon C. Bain Center (VCBC) is an 800-bed jail barge used to hold inmates for the New York City Department of Corrections as part of the vast Rikers Island jail complex. It was built in New Orleans along the Mississippi River for $161 million in Avondale Shipyard, and brought to New York in 1992 to reduce overcrowding in the island's land-bound buildings for a lower price under a David Dinkins-led crime initiative. Nicknamed "The Boat" by prison staff and inmates, it is designed to handle inmates from medium- to maximum-security in 16 dormitories and 100 cells.
It was opened in 1992 and was named for Vernon C. Bain, a warden who died in a car accident. In the same accident, Officer Theresa M. Brown and her nine-year-old daughter Tracy Hope Diaz were severely injured. It has been used by the city of New York as a prison, but has also temporarily held juvenile inmates. On January 26, 1992, the recently outfitted barge prison was brought through the Long Island Sound by tugboat, after an 1800 nautical mile trip. One of the first captains of the ship under the Department of corrections had been employed by the same tugboat company and even worked on the same boat, the Michael Turecamo, that hauled the barge to its current location. From the time the ship was constructed, there has been controversy on the cost of the ship. Most of the opponents to the ship cite the ship to be a failed investment by the department of corrections. At some point in the prison's use it was temporarily closed prior to 1996. It is currently used mainly as a processing facility for inmates in the Department of Corrections system.
The Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center was not the first floating prison the New York City Department of Corrections used. The Bibby Resolution, and her sister ship Bibby Venture, were bought by the New York City Department of Correction in 1988 to serve as prison ships. Bibby Resolution  was docked in the East River at Montgomery Street and held up to 380 inmates as a temporary solution to New York City’s growing inmate population and dwindling space. It was finally closed in 1992. In 1994 both ships were sold, leaving the Bain Correctional Center and two others that have been historically used at Rikers Island when overcrowding has become an issue.
The 625-foot long by 125-foot wide flatbed barge is equipped with 14 dormitories and 100 cells for inmates. For recreation, there is a full-size gym with basketball court, weight lifting rooms and an outdoor recreation facility on the roof. There are three worship chapels, a modern medical facility and a library open to inmate use. Due to the 47,326-ton facility being on the water, when it opened a minimum of three maritime crew was maintained under Coast Guard regulations. After ten years of the United States Coast Guard requiring maritime personnel on the ship, the Coast Guard ceased interest in the operation of the jail in 2002. The prison ship is located approximately one mile away from SUNY Maritime college.
There has been at least one attempted escape prior to 2002 from the floating corrections center. A disgruntled inmate attempted to escape from the recreation area by climbing the 30-foot fence equipped with razor wire. Due to the corrections officers’ uniform boots, they were unable to climb the fence in pursuit. Instead they used basketballs ineffectively in an attempt to disengage the fleeing inmate. The inmate successfully overtook the fence and dove into the East River where he was promptly picked up and returned by a police watercraft that was dispatched to the scene.
Another escape occurred in February 2004 when the girlfriend of an inmate gave a handcuff key to him in the center. At one point the inmate was handcuffed, by one wrist, to another inmate. Without the notice of any employee, he was able to remove the cuffs to free himself. The inmate was able to cling to the undercarriage of a prisoner transport bus to ride away from the facility. He let go of the bus in South Bronx and walked away. The inmate was apprehended nearly a month later and six officers and a captain were given administrative leave due to the incident. The corrections commissioner said the escape happened due to human error as “correction officers are required to check under buses before departing.” Due to the incident, the Department of Corrections now requires both wrists to be handcuffed on inmates.
A surge in the need for juvenile detention space caused the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice to lease space at the Bain Correction Center in 1998. Initially there was much opposition to using the barge as a juvenile prison space. The barge had been unused since August 1995 and was ready to house inmates again. To solve the space problem and to assist in the closure of Spofford Juvenile Center, the space was used for inmate processing and temporary housing for inmates from prior to transfer. In 1999 the Department of Juvenile Justice, after completing renovations to other buildings, moved out from the center. During the time it was used for juveniles, the center was leased by the Department of Juvenile Justice.
In popular culture
Bain Correctional Center is one of the noted landmarks in poet Claudia Rankine's The Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue. The play was a 2011 Distinguished Development Project Selection in the American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage.
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- Von Zielbauer, Paul (19 March 2004). "Correction Lapses Admitted In Prisoner's Escape Via Bus". New York Times. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
- Harsbarger, Rebecca (25 January 2013). "Bronx prisoner escapes police custody one day after Brooklyn man flees precinct". New York Post. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
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- Edwards, Jacqueline M. (2008). Introduction to Juvenile Justice System. Lulu. p. 130.
- Faruquee, Mishi (2002). "Rethinking Juvenile Detention in New York City". Correctional Association Juvenile Justice Project.
- Kelly, Malikah J. (2004). "10 Reasons New York City should close the Spofford Youth Center". Corrections Association Juvenile Justice Project.
- Jackson, Kenneth T. (2010). The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. p. 1584. ISBN 0300182570.
- Del Signore, John (13 September 2009). "The Provenance of Beauty". The Gothamist. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
- "The Bollingen Prize for Poetry 2011 Winner". Beinecke.library.yale.edu. Retrieved 2011-06-18.
- Khoury, Raymond (2005). Last templar.. [S.l.]: Orion. p. 23. ISBN 0-7528-7968-5.