Elam Lynds

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Elam Lynds
Elam Lynds.png
Lynds circa 1840-1850
Warden of Auburn Correctional Facility
In office
Warden of Sing Sing
In office
Succeeded by Robert Wiltse
Personal details
Born 1784
Litchfield, Connecticut
Died 1855 (age 71)
New York City
Children Cornelia Lynds DeForest

Captain Elam Lynds (1784–1855) helped create the Auburn system, which consisted of congregate labor during the day and isolation at night, starting in 1821 and was Warden of Sing Sing from 1825 to 1830.[1]


Elam Lynds was born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1784. His parents moved to Troy, New York, when he was an infant. He learned the hatter's trade and worked at it for some years. In the War of 1812 he held a captain's commission in a New York regiment. When the Auburn State Prison was opened in 1817, Captain Lynds was made the first principal keeper, and four years afterwards he became Warden of Auburn State Prison. He made many experiments with a view to furnishing better occupation and to improving the general condition of the prison. He devised the main features of what is now known as the Auburn System of imprisonment. When it was proposed to erect a new state prison at Mount Pleasant, New York on the Hudson River, Captain Lynds was selected to take charge of the enterprise. He began this work in 1823 and successfully prosecuted it for four years with prison labor, when the Sing Sing Prison was completed according to the original plan. After his retirement from the prison service he lived in New York City, where he died in 1855.[2]


  1. ^ Annual report of the Board of Managers of the Prison Discipline Society. Prison Discipline Society. 1827. Mr. Elam Lynds, the author of the Auburn system, and the founder of the establishment at Sing Sing ... 
  2. ^ Charles Richmond Henderson (1910). Correction and prevention.