ARIZONA AT 100

Brief stay found life in prison not bad

2011-12-12T00:00:00Z Brief stay found life in prison not badArizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 12, 2011 12:00 am  • 

In this year leading up to Arizona's centennial, Feb. 14, 2012, we'll reprint a story or excerpts each day from the Arizona Daily Star or Tucson Citizen archives.

Nov. 27, 1912

PHOENIX, Ariz. - One night in a cell, one hour of solitary confinement and one meal with the convicts are some of the experiences of Charles R. Osborn, secretary of the board of control, who went to the penitentiary at Florence last week. He went for the purpose of investigating the exact conditions under which the convicts live, and came away convinced that they are well cared for.

Friday night Mr. Osborn slept in one of the cells of cell house No. 1. He arrived late and was not put in a cell with one of the prisoners, but was given one to himself, near the south door. His cell was in the airiest part of the building, but he declares that he slept comfortably all night. No bedding except the regulation amount given each prisoner was furnished him.

The next day Mr. Osborn ate the midday meal with the convicts in the big mess hall. He wanted to find out if he could live on the fare supplied the prisoners, and decided that he could do so without any particular discomfort. The food, he declares, is good; there is plenty of it, and the variety is surprising.

Later in the day Mr. Osborn was put into the incorrigible ward, at his own request, and he stayed there an hour. He was scarcely in solitary confinement, for there were three prisoners in the ward, but he obtained an idea of how it feels to be incarcerated in the least desirable part of the penitentiary.

As soon as the guard who locked Mr. Osborn up and left, an Irishman in one of the solitary cells whispered hoarsely:

"Say, bo, if you have any tobacco or cigarette papers don't let 'em know 'cause they'll take 'em away from you."

The convict and the official entered into conversation and Mr. Osborn gained further information about prison life. The Irishman sang several of Harry Lauder's songs, which entertained Mr. Osborn greatly. He was surprised to find such talent at the penitentiary.

When he returned to Phoenix, Mr. Osborn was accompanied by two convicts who were placed on their honor to come over and do some boiler work at the asylum for the insane.

- Arizona Daily Star

The Sundt Cos., O'Rielly Chevrolet, Research Corp. for Science Advancement, the University of Arizona, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., Rosemont Copper, Tucson Realty & Trust. Co., Jack Furrier Tire & Auto Care, Walgreens and Carondelet Health Network are sponsors of the Star's Arizona Centennial project.

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