337 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 222-2353
Fax: (401) 222-3199
Open to the public
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Soon after its establishment, the Board of State Charities and Corrections confided work on the design of a new state prison and the purchase of land for the prison to a Board committee. In 1874, the General Assembly passed a resolution appointing a State Prison Commission to undertake the overall management of construction. At the end of their work, the Commission's final report (1879) described their responsibility, as they had understood it:
"The Commissioners were to build not simply a State Prison for the confinement of convicts serving long sentences, but were also to build a State or County Jail, a House of Detention for debtors, witnesses and persons awaiting trial, and for the imprisonment of offenders against municipal ordinances…. All were come to under one system of management and control.” Rhode Island. State Prison Commission. Fifth and Last Annual Report of the State Prison Commission. Made to the General Assembly. January 1879 Session.
The Commission's membership consisted of the Chairman of the Board of Inspections of the State Prison, the Chairman of the Board of State Charities and Corrections as well as three gubernatorial appointees. The commission was closed in 1879, as the prison's construction was nearing completion. The work of the commission is mainly recorded in the commission's annual reports, which are appended to the General Assembly's Acts and Resolves. Meanwhile, the General Assembly had relieved the members of the Board of State Prison Inspectors of their duties in 1877. Rhode Island. Acts and Resolves, January 1877, the Inspectors having been merged with the Board of State Charities and Corrections.