Page images

the Agent. Our monthly inspections of the Prison have kept us assured that every department is in a cleanly condition--that the inmates are well clad, and their food abundant and wholesome.

The health of the convicts has been remarkably good, the hospital department being under the charge of an able and efficient physician.

The Inspectors conceive it to be their duty to make a statement of facts in reference to certain matters that have come to their knowledge. connected with the accounts of Mr. Justus Goodwin, late Agent of this prison. That gentleman was superseded by the present agent on the sixteenth day of May last. It is understood that he closed his accounts with the. Auditor General soon after he went out of office. But upon examination of certain bills of purchase made by him as Agent of the Prison, and comparing them with the vouchers taken by him when the bills in question were paid, the Inspectors found charges for a considerable quantity of goods, embracing a variety of articles which do not belong to the catalogue of ordinary Prison supplies. Such informatiou was sought as was accessible among

officers of the Prison who served at the time the above purchases purport to have been made, with a view of ascertaining whether it was possible that the articles, or any portion of them, had in fact been brought into the Prison enclosure; and the result was so unsatisfactory that on the seventh of October last past, the Inspectors adopted the following preamble and resolution:

" Whereas, In sundry bills of purchase made by J. Goodwin, late Agent, there appears various items that need explanation, which items are as follows, to wit:

In bills rendered by S. W. Whitwell.
In April, 1849. 124 lbs. sugar, 1.00; 3 yds. cassinet, 3.75, $4 75
May, 1 lb. ten, 75; 5 lbs. coffee, 50; 3 yards

cassinet, 4.50; 1 yd. satin, 2.25; 1 silk.
cravat, 1.25; 1 silk h’dk', 50; 2 cham-
bers, 63;....

10 38
July, 12} yds. paper muslin, 1.25; 2 pair pants,

4 25 Sept., 12 yds. Cashmere, 9.00; 33 yds. prints, 1.25; 1 pr. rubbers, 1.25;....

14 38


20 lbs. sugar,

In Jan. 1850. 10 yds. maroon,

3 75 Feb.

1 60 May, 27 yds. prints,

2 48 Ap'l, 1851. 16 yds. prints, .

2 00 In bills rendered by S. S. Vaughn & Co. In Aug. 1849. 1 bot. cologne, 75; Sept. 1849, 1 bot. cologne, 56;...

1 31 Nov. 5 lbs. coffee, 50; Oct., 3 qts. varnish, 2.63; -. 3 13 Jan. 1850. 2 bot. cologne, -

1 13 In bills rendered by G. F. Gardner. In Oct. 1849. 2 lbs. tea, 1.50; } lb pepper, 06;....

1 56 Dec. 1850. 14 lbs. nuts, 2.24; 10 lbs. sugar, 1.40; 10 lbs. raisins, 1.88;.

5 52 In bills rendered by A. Patterson. In July, 1850. 1 qt. varnish, 88; Aug., 1 qt. wine, 1.00;.... 1 88

Sept. 5 gals, molasses, 1.55; 50 lbs. sugar, 3.25;.. 4 80

In bills rendered by H. DeGraff. In April 1849. 14 stair rods, 2.33; In July, 1 set castors, 75; 3 08 Aug. 1 set castors, 75; June, 1850, $ doz. rosewood knobs, 1.25;-...

2 00 In bill rendered by D. T. Merriman. In Oct. 1850. 10 yds. merino, 3.13; 10 yds. delaine, 2.80; 5 94

In bill rendered by Aldrich & Co. In May 1849. 6 lbs. sugar,..

48 In bill rendered by H. A. Hayden. In May 1850. 1 bbl. flour, .

4 78 In bill rendered by J. Snyder. In Dec. 1850. 15 lbs. Laguira coffee, .

1 32 In bill rendered by Z. Chandler & Co. In Oct. 1850. 145 yds. prints, ...

... 13 05 Therefore, Resolved, That the Clerk be instructed to communicate said items to the said J. Goodwin, and request of him an explanation previous to the next meeting of the Inspectors.

The Clerk of the Prison transmitted a certified copy of the above preamble and resolution immediately to Mr. Goodwin, but no response was bad from him at the date of this report, although nearly a month has elapsed since such copy was transmitted to him. (See Note A.)

From all the information the Inspectors have been able to gather, they are forced to come to one of two conclusions—either that Mr. Goodwin kept his accounts in a loosely reprehensible manner, or that he has wilfully and designedly defrauded the State. If we take into the account Mr. Goodwin's reputation as a business man,

it matters little which horn of the dilemma he may grasp.

The above statement is made simply as a duty which devolves upon the Inspectors. Should Mr. Goodwin make no satisfactory explanation of the difficulty presented, proper legal proceedings will be directed to be commenced against him.

In this connexion it may with propriety be suggested that the pre- . sent laws for the government of the State Prison do not furnish sufficient safeguards to ensure the faithful performance of all the duties devolving upon the Agent. That officer is appointed by the Governor, and is not therefore responsible to any other power for the manner in which he shall execute his trust. The Inspectors, although clothed with all necessary powers to make examinations of the condition of every branch of the prison service, have no sufficient authority to execute the rules and regulations and resolutions they may adopt. Under the present laws, there is no responsible head of the Prison. Both the Agent and Inspectors are appointed by the Governor, and are therefore both alike responsible to him, which amounts to no responsibility at all. The duties of the Agent, or of the Inspectors, are not sufficiently defined, and there is room for constant clashing between them. There should be a responsible head of this institution; and it will be submitted at the proper time whether some modifications of the existing laws are not required.


Inspectors. Jackson, Dec. 1st, 1851.

[ NOTE A.) Since the date of our annual report the annexed letter has been received from Mr. Goodwin. It is unnecessary to remark upon it, farther than to say that the explanations attempted are entirely un


satisfactory. The Inspectors have yet to learn that the Agent of this Prison has authority to use “secret service money” without accounting for it, or that he is justifiable in making payments from the Prison treasury, either in money, “flour," "sugar," "ta," "cashmere," or any other commodity, without taking a proper voucher from the person to whom the payment is made. And it is conceived that the system of "dickering,” which Mr. Goodwin's letter reveals, is quito out of place in a State officer. Even admitting that every thing connected with Mr. Goodwin's account is honest, and that all the articles be purchased were used for Prison purposes, what a gateway is opened by the toleration of such a system of doing business, for fraud and peculation, if an agent is disposed to avail himself of it! But since Mr. Goodwin's letter was received, such further enquiries as it suggests have been made, and the conviction is forced upon the Inspectors that very many of the articles enumerated, which were purchased by Mr. Goodwin and paid for out of Prison moneys, were never used for the benefit of the Prison.

The Inspectors should have been glad of a satisfactory explanation from Mr. Goodwin, and thus been saved the disagreeable task of making the statement which a single adherence to duty requires at their hands.

Mr. Goodwin has not, as yet, otherwise settled all his Prison business. There are still liabilities outstanding against him, in the shape of due bills, signed by him in his individual capacity, but which were given in acknowledgement of Prison dues, and believed hy the holders to be obligatory upon the State. One of these is for a balance of salary due an officer, and another for goods delivered different persons upon orders or due bills drawn by Mr. Goodwin. He had taken vouchers from the persons to whom these amounts were due, and, of course, in settling with the Auditor General, was allowed for so much money expended. The money went into his pocket, and the holders of the due bills are patiently awaiting his pleasure to pay them. Though the State is relieved from legal responsibility, it is questionable whether innocent persons should suffer the misfeasance of a public officer.

The law in respect to the fiscal management of the Prison is defective. It is believed that the Inspectors should be an auditing

board, by whom all bills, claims and accounts against the Prison should be allowed before they are paid. Now the Agent makes purchases at his pleasure, pays for them in like manner, submits his vouchers to the Auditor General, and is credited the amount involved without inquiry. The Inspectors have the simple power to examine the books, papers, &c., of the Prison, but the law does not make it their duty to do so. If herein the Agent should be directly responsible to the Inspectors, there would be no room for peculation or fraud.


Inspectors. Jackson, Dec. 10th, 1851.


COLDWATER, 1st Dec., 1851. To the Board of Inspectors of the State Prison at Jackson:

Dear Sirs—While I was in attendance upon the Calhoun County Circuit, your resolution transmitted through Mr. Bloomfield, asking certain explanations touching various articles purchased and paid for by me as State Prison Agent, reached this place, and as a reason for not answering before, allow me to say that the Branch County Circuit, occupying a full week, and the St. Joseph Co. Circuit, occupying another week, added to the burning of our office and the confusion consequent thereupon, has used up my leisure monients until now, and I have barely had time to look over the communication, and that, too, without reference to any of my private Prison papers. however, without any forethought or reflection, give you some general idea of the transactions alluded to, and assure you that whatever I paid for with Prison funds, went to the use of the Prison, unless such articles escaped my observation in looking over the bills. I do not remember, from mere recollection, to have paid for all the articles enumerated, but may have done so.

Some of these articles, both Mr. Bloomfield and Mr. Curtiss knew, about at the time, and one or both assisted in their distribution among

I can,

« PreviousContinue »