Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center

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Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center
Bainjailjeh.jpg
Parking lot and main entrance to the center in Hunts Point, Bronx
Location The Bronx, New York
Coordinates Coordinates: 40°48′5″N 73°52′38″W / 40.80139°N 73.87722°W / 40.80139; -73.87722
Status Operational
Capacity 870
Opened 1992 (1992)
Managed by New York City Department of Corrections
Warden Linda Griffin [1]
Street address 1 Halleck Street
City Bronx, New York City
State New York
ZIP code 10474
Country United States

The Vernon C. Bain Center (VCBC), also known as the Vernon C. Bain Maritime Facility,[2] 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,[3] and brought to New York in 1992 to reduce overcrowding in the island's land-bound buildings for a lower price.[4] Nicknamed "The Boat" by prison staff and inmates,[5] it is designed to handle inmates from medium- to maximum-security in 16 dormitories and 100 cells.

Currently the only ship in use, the Vernon C. Bain Center is the third prison ship that the New York Department of Corrections has used. In its history, the prison has served traditional inmates, juvenile inmates and is currently used as a holding and temporary processing center. The added security of the prison being on water has not prevented at least four attempted escapes. The ship is named in memorial for warden Vernon C. Bain who died in an automobile accident. In 2014, the prison ship was named the world's largest operational prison ship by the Guinness World Records.[6]

History[edit]

In the late 1980s, the New York Department of Correction experienced overcrowding issues in its prison complexes.[7] The idea of temporarily alleviating the issues of a growing inmate population and dwindling space by outfitting prison ships was conceived under the administration of then Mayor Edward I. Koch. Their solution was to develop usable prison space with maritime cells and avoid complaints about building jails in densely populated neighborhoods.[3]

In 1988, the Bibby Resolution, and her sister ship Bibby Venture, were bought by the New York City Department of Correction in to serve as the first two prison ships.[8] Both ships were previously used as British troop carriers before being re-purposed into prison ships.[9] In 1994 both ships were sold,[10][11] leaving the Bain Correctional Center and two converted Staten Island ferries, the Wildstein and Kean,[12] docked at Rikers Island to be used when overcrowding became an issue.[13][14]

The construction of the Vernon C. Bain Center prison ship began in 1989 at Avondale Shipyard by Avondale Industries and was supposed to be finished in 1990 at the price of $125.6 million. Due to unanticipated construction problems including issues with the ventilation system, the finished ship was delivered 18 months late and $35 million over budget. On January 26, 1992, the recently outfitted barge prison was brought through the Long Island Sound by the tugboat, Michael Turecamo, after an 1800 nautical mile trip.[15] The new ship was named for well-liked and respected warden Vernon C. Bain who died in an automobile accident.[16][7]

One of the first captains of the ship under the Department of Corrections had previously been employed by the same tugboat company and had earlier captained the tugboat that hauled the barge to its current location. The new crew of the prison ship, who were placed in accordance with Coast Guard regulations, worked on the empty ship to learn the ships operations, including the electrical and fire fighting systems.[17] The ship officially opened for use and began accepting inmates later in 1992.

The blue and white barge as seen from the Long Island Sound with the outdoor recreation area to the left and the gym in the center

From the time the ship was constructed, there has been controversy about its cost.[3] The final price was more than $35 million over budget, which attracted negative attention. The assistant correction commissioner, John H. Shanahan, claimed the price difference was because the Department of Corrections "never designed this kind of passenger vessel before and unfortunately there was a mistake in the original contract."[3] William Booth, the chairmain of the Board of Corrections, said at the time that the prison ship would be the last barge the Department of Corrections would build because the process was too expensive and too uncertain. The Board of Corrections is an independent body that monitors city-owned prisons. [3]

The prison ship was temporarily closed in August 1995 due to less crowded city jails, caused by a decline in arrests and inmate transfers. In late 1996, the prison was slated for reopening due to the rise in arrests from a campaign targeting drugs and drug dealers.[18] The six month campaign expected more than seven thousand additional arrests than usual, but the ship was not reopened until its 1998 when it was used by the Department of Juvenile Justice. The Bain Center is currently used as a processing facility for inmates in the Department of Corrections system. There are three other processing facilities that each handle specific boroughs.[19]

Juvenile detention[edit]

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.[20][21] At the time, there were over five thousand juveniles aged thirteen to eighteen years old in secure detention in New York.[22] The barge had been unused since August 1995 but had been maintained and was ready to house inmates again. The center was used to solve the space problem and to assist in the closure of Spofford Juvenile Center. The temporary space was used for juvenile inmate processing and temporary housing for inmates from prior to transfer.[13] Children were moved out of the Bain Center and back into the Spofford facility in 1999.[22] In January 2000, the Department of Juvenile Justice, after completing renovations to other buildings, moved out of the center.[23][24]

Escapes[edit]

Aerial photo of Rikers Island, seen from the North. Bain Correctional Center is seen in the bottom left corner as the docked blue and white ship.

The first time a prisoner tried to escape from the Bain happened in 1993, when a 38 year-old prisoner was able to escape while he was supposed to be cleaning ice from the parking lot in front of the ship. The guard who was responsible for the inmate was suspended without pay due to the incident.[25]

Prior to 2002, an inmate tried to escape from the prison's recreation area by climbing the 30-foot fence equipped with razor wire. The guards' uniform boots prevented them from climbing the fence in pursuit, so they threw basketballs at the inmate to stop his escape, but he was able to successfully climb over it. He dove into the East River, where he was promptly picked up and returned by a police watercraft that was dispatched to the scene.[26]

Another escape occurred in February 2004 when the girlfriend of an inmate gave him a handcuff key.[27] The inmate was handcuffed by one wrist to another inmate, but he was able to, without any prison employee noticing, remove the cuffs and free himself.[28] 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 the South Bronx and walked away, but was apprehended nearly a month later. Six officers and a captain were given administrative leave due to the incident.[27] The corrections commissioner said the escape was caused by a combination of the inmate's quick thinking and the officers' sloppy work.[28]

In early 2013, an inmate charged with petty larceny successfully slipped out of his handcuffs as he arrived at the Bain Center.[29][30][31]

Facilities[edit]

The 625-foot long by 125-foot wide flatbed barge is equipped with 14 dormitories and 100 cells for inmates.[4] 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.[32] The 47,326-ton facility was on the water, so when it opened, a minimum of three maritime crew was maintained under Coast Guard regulations.[33] According to John Klumpp, the barge's first captain, in 2002, "the Coast Guard, after years of monitoring the prison barge, finally accepted the reality that that it was, de facto, a jail and not a boat."[34] The prison ship is located approximately one mile away from SUNY Maritime college.[35]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Correction (DOC)". New York City Citywide Administrative Services. NYC Government. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "National Jail and Adult Detention Directory". American Correctional Association: 306. 2000. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Raab, Selwyn (27 January 1999). "Bronx Jail Barge to Open, Though the Cost Is Steep". New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Wacquant, p.124
  5. ^ Sullivan, Laura (22 January 2010). "Inmates Who Can't Make Bail Face Stark Options". NPR. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Guinness world records 2014. Vancouver, British Columbia: Jim Pattison Group. 2013. ISBN 978-1-908843-35-7. 
  7. ^ a b Klumpp, p. 293
  8. ^ Bohlen, Celestine (3 March 1989). "Jail Influx Brings Plan For 2 Barges". The New York Times (New York: NYTC). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  9. ^ Siebert, Rudolf (2010). Manifesto of the Critical Theory of Society and Religion (3 Vols.): The Wholly Other, Liberation, Happiness and the Rescue of the Hopeless. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers. p. 919. ISBN 978-90-04-18436-7. 
  10. ^ Wacquant, {.125
  11. ^ Fein, Esther B. (29 July 1994). "A $1.8 Million Bid Wins 2 Empty Prison Barges". The New York Times (New York: NYTC). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  12. ^ Navvaro, Mireya (12 July 1994). "2 Jail Barges May Be Sold At Shortfall Of Millions". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Lombardi, Frank (12 March 1998). "Jail Kids On Barge, Commish Suggests". NY Daily News. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  14. ^ Raab, Selwyn (15 February 1992). "2 Jail Barges To Be Closed And Removed". New York Times. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  15. ^ "Vernon C. Bain". Steamboat Bill: Journal of the Steamship Historical Society of America 49 (201–204): 132. 1992. 
  16. ^ Jiler, James (2006). Doing Time in the Garden: Life Lessons Through Prison Horticulture. New Village Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-9766054-2-3. 
  17. ^ Klumpp, p. 297
  18. ^ Kocieniewski, David (3 March 1996). "Preparing for a Campaign Against Drugs, Officials Seek more Jail Space of Dealors". New York Times. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "DOC – Facilities Overview". City of New York Department of Corrections. New York City. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  20. ^ Edwards, Jacqueline M. (2008). Introduction to Juvenile Justice System. Lulu. p. 130. 
  21. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T. (2010). The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. p. 1584. ISBN 0-300-18257-0. 
  22. ^ a b Kozol, Jonathan (2012). Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope. Random House LLC. p. 359. ISBN 978-0-7704-3567-7. 
  23. ^ Faruquee, Mishi (2002). "Rethinking Juvenile Detention in New York City". Correctional Association Juvenile Justice Project. 
  24. ^ Kelly, Malikah J. (2004). "10 Reasons New York City should close the Spofford Youth Center". Corrections Association Juvenile Justice Project. 
  25. ^ Johnson Publishing Company (15 March 1993). "Weekly Almanac: Slip Up". Jet 83 (20): 19. 
  26. ^ Klumpp, p. 300
  27. ^ a b Wilson, Michael (13 July 2012). "A Suspect With a Knack for Escape". New York Times. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  28. ^ a b Von Zielbauer, Paul (19 March 2004). "Correction Lapses Admitted In Prisoner's Escape Via Bus". New York Times. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  29. ^ Harsbarger, Rebecca (25 January 2013). "Bronx prisoner escapes police custody one day after Brooklyn man flees precinct". New York Post. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  30. ^ Tracy, Thomas (25 January 2013). "Murder suspect who escaped police custody arrested in Bronx". New York Daily News. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  31. ^ "Bronx prisoner, Jermaine Logan, escapes police custody". News 12 The Bronx. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  32. ^ Klumpp, p. 295
  33. ^ Goodrich, Daniel C.; Frances L. Edwards (2012). Introduction to transportation security. Boca Raton: CRC Press. p. 252. ISBN 978-1-4398-4576-9. 
  34. ^ Klumpp, p. 302
  35. ^ Carlson, Jen (20 September 2012). "Did You Know About This Floating Prison On The East River?". The Gothamist. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 

Works cited[edit]

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