Elam Lynds, New York Prison Keeper

face of a prisoner

Elam Lynds became the principal keeper at New York’s Auburn State Prison in 1821. He implemented what came to be the world-famous Auburn System for suppressing prisoners’ communication. In 1825, Lynds took a group of prisoners from the Auburn prison to Ossining, where they camped, quarried stone, and built the Sing Sing prison in which they were then imprisoned. Lynds served as warden of Sing Sing until 1830. He served as warden again at Auburn State Prison from May, 1838 to Apr., 1839, and again at Sing Sing, 1843-1844. Lynds had a reputation as harsh prison keeper who maintained strict order with brutal floggings.^ Angry citizens burned Prison Inspector John Edmonds in effigy for his reappointment of Lynds as Sing Sing’s warden.^

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