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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Florida Corrections:  Centuries of Progress

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Inmate population
December 31, 1936:

Prison administrators began fingerprinting inmates. The following is an excerpt from a letter written by B.H. Dickson, Supervisor of State Convicts, to the Honorable Nathan Mayo, Commissioner of Agriculture, on January 13, 1937. The letter was printed in the prisons system's annual report, entitled the Twenty-Fourth Biennial Report of the Prison Division of the Department of Agriculture of the state of Florida for the Years 1935 and 1936. Dickson's Annual Report letters show remarkable prescience regarding such issues as classification, confinement and even inmate compensation and recidivism.

According to Dickson:

"During the year 1936 the Prison division began having the Wardens of all County Camps make finger print records of all prisoners committed to the various Camps and filing a copy of the same in the Tallahassee Bureau Office, and also a copy with the Federal Bureau of Investigations in Washington, D.C. In my opinion this was a very important step in the right direction. These records will readily identify any dangerous criminal who may be a fugitive from justice and will also be available for identification purposes in the event a prisoner committed on a lesser charge may later commit some serious offense and become a fugitive from justice. Since this system has been started hardly a week passes that the Bureau at Tallahassee don't (sic) receive a notice from the Bureau at Washington to hold some County prisoner, that he is a fugitive from justice. All the equipment for taking these prints is furnished free by the Federal Bureau, and I think there should be a law passed making it compulsory that the sheriff in each County take these prints before the prisoners are delivered to the Camps."

Fingerprint Card
Fingerprint cards, while discussed in 1936, were not implemented in Florida until much later.

Grade School Classes
Grade school classes were introduced during Warden Leonard Chapman's tenure. (Photo courtesy of FPC.)

Large Crowd of Inmates
Farm detail leaving the prison yard at Raiford. (Photo courtesy of FPC.)

Three story, white building with barred windows and 1930 automobiles parked in front.
Main building at Raiford. (Photo courtesy of FPC.)

16 OCTOBER 1936

TO EXECUTE SIX - Setting a record for signing death warrants, Gov. Dave SHOLTZ last Saturday in Tallahassee signed six for men whom the Pardon Board refused to commute sentences to life in prison. Four men - one Negro and three white -- will be executed the week of October 19, and one white and one Negro will walk to the death chair October 26. L. D. PADGETT and Lee CLARK, the latter a Negro, are convicted for killing their wives last year, and were saved September 9, thirteen minutes before time for their execution by a last-minute stay. This is the first time in history of the State Prison Farm at Raiford that six men were sentenced to die within a period of 14 days.

{In fact, inmates Clarence D. Casey, 23; James Milligan, 24; L.D. Padgett, 28; and Lee Clark, 30; were all executed on October 19, 1936 within 15 minutes of each other, from 10:43 a.m. (Casey) to 11:27 a.m. (Clark). One week later, on October 26, 1936, inmates George W. Scroggins, 41, and Rufus Johnson, 20, were executed at 10:13 a.m. (Scroggins) and 10:24 a.m. (Johnson). All six were sentenced for murder.}

Aerial View of Correctional Institution Aerial view of prison

Wooden Fence Surrounding the Institution
Wooden fences surrounding the institutions were replaced with chain link fences so inmates could see outside.

Classes at a Correctional Institution.
Inmates take part in educational classes.

Newspaper Press
Even today, one of the inmate vocational programs is printing.

27 NOVEMBER 1936

TURKEY DINNER AT PRISON - More than 300 turkeys have been killed at the State Prison Farm near here to feed 1,800 prisoners their annual Thanksgiving dinner. At Christmas the prison population has another feast and each man receives a gift.

CHAIR CLAIMS EIGHT - TALLAHASSEE - The electric chair took the lives of one-fourth of the convicts who have died in Florida's prison system since Jan. 1. Eight men have been electrocuted this year at the Raiford penitentiary. Including these, the death total of state convicts is thirty-three so far this year. The 1935 total was thirty-two, according to records of the state prison bureau.

TO DEDICATE FARM BUILDINGS - PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT HAS BEEN INVITED FOR CEREMONIES - New buildings at the State Farm, valued at $305,102 will be dedicated December 11 by Governor SHOLTZ, members of his cabinet, other state dignitaries and high officials. President ROOSEVELT has been invited, but it is not known yet whether he will be present or not. The new buildings include a white women's dormitory building and infirmary, a colored women's dormitory building, and a hospital. New buildings and additions, totaling $1,737,595, will be dedicated or will have cornerstone ceremonies at about the same time.

Nine men standing in front of the prison entrance.
Attending the 12/11/1936 dedication ceremony for the new hospital and women's wards are (left to right): William V. Knott, Florida Treasurer; W.S. Cawthon, Superintendent of Public Instruction; Nathon Mayo, Comm. of Agriculture; Leonard F. Chapman, Superintendant of Raiford Prison; Florida Governor Dave Sholtz; Fred H. Davis, Supreme Court Justice; Robert A. Gray, Secretary of State; Mr. Cotton.

Raiford prison hospital being constructed.
Photo taken earlier of the prison hospital during construction.

Leonard Chapman on a Horse and Buggy
Leonard Chapman

11 DECEMBER 1936

DECEMBER EXECUTIONS - FIRST TO BE HELD NEAR CHRISTMAS IN HISTORY OF ELECTRIC CHAIR - Numbers fifty-five [57] and fifty-six [58], the march of death against crime, will be executed Monday, December 14 at 9:30 o'clock in the death chamber of the State Prison Farm at Raiford near here - just 11 days before Christmas. James WALKER and Richard WILLIAMS, two negroes, convicted for the hold-up slaying of a St. Petersburg grocer, will walk the few paces from the death cell to the electric chair shortly before 10 o'clock Monday. Since the electric chair was installed January 1, 1924, to replace the noose and scaffold, 54 men have paid with their lives in the "hot seat." Never before in the history of the electric chair has a condemned inmate paid the supreme penalty during the Yuletide season of December. That's a record maintained by Gov. SHOLTZ, who set another record during last November when he signed death warrants for four men to be electrocuted within a week of each other. They were all electrocuted on the same day--the state's first quadruple execution. Can you imagine such a gay old fellow as Santa Claus, bringing you a black bordered death warrant 11 days before Christmas?

(In fact, inmates Richard Williams, 32, and James W. Walker, 30, were executed on December 14, 1936 for murder in Pinellas County. Williams died at 9:43 a.m. and Walker was executed nine minutes later at 9:54 a.m.)

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