Saturday, January 19, 2013

1913 - Drugs at Sing Sing

The Times Dispatch
January 19 1913

Accidental Discovery of Source 
From Whence Supply Comes
To Convicts

Ossining, N.Y., January 18--The accidental dropping of a weight has cleared up a mystery which has been puzzling the wardens of Sing Sing prison from the time of Warden Sage down to John S. Kennedy, the incumbent.

The weight in question showed how drugs like opium, morphine, cocaine, in powder form, and other things get to the convicts.  The discovery will be of benefit to the wardens of every other prison of the State and to keepers of city prisons like the Tombs in New York.  It has been shipped in picture post cards.  further than that, from investigations already adopted by Warden Kennedy, it appears that as far as the New York suppy is concerned one woman has been the principal manufacturer, having a large stock of drugged postals on hand, which fact was known to the friends of men in prison who must have drugs.

No one thought anything of it when the postal card craze manifested itself in the prison five or six years ago, because the convicts keep pretty well abreast of the times.

Some of the cards were movable, the embossing being prominent and large.  The mail that arrived one morning a week or more ago contained several score of these cards and all were taken to the proper official to be examined, as is the rule.  The man sat at his desk, the cards before him.  In some way or other, either a weight or a book dropped on one of the largest post cards in such a manner that the edge of it struck on the edge of the embossing, cutting a hole.  To the surprise of the man at the desk, a tiny speck of white dropped before him.  He picked it up.  It looked like the segment of a small morphine pill.  He took it to the prison physician and such it proved to be.

The embossing was ripped loose and the hollow space of it was found to be filled with more morphine pills, a goodly number of them a half grain in strength and concentrated.

An examination of every other embossed postal card in the batch showed that two thirds of them had some kind of drug in them, enough to last a fiend until the next postal card was received.

The examination has convinced the warden that the convicts of all prisons have been using picture postal cards for some years.  not only has this been done in Sing Sing, but other large prisons of the country.

Convicts who were prevailed upon to talk have said that a woman in New York City has the monopoly of embossed cards in that district.  Her name has been sent to the police.  They say she charged twenty-five cents for a card and with the drug extract she did a thriving business.

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