Prior to 1847, the New York State Governor appointed local boards of prison inspectors. General powers of the Governor to appoint inspectors of all types was set out in the New York State Constitution of 1821.^ John W. Edmonds was a member of the Board of Inspectors of Sing Sing Prison from April, 1843 through February 1845. During that time, Edmonds led the founding of the Prison Association of New York.
With the New York State Constitution of 1846, New York State shifted from appointed local prison inspectors to elected, state-wide prison inspectors. Article 4, Section 5, of the 1846 New York Constitution replaced the local boards of prison inspectors with three state-wide prison inspectors to be elected in state-wide elections.^ The first state board of prison inspectors was elected in November, 1847.