By Ed Engledow
The physical and mental well being of the 600 inmates is the chief concern of officials of La Tuna Correctional Institution in the Upper Valley.
Correctional officers, who supervise the prisoners in all phases of their life, have much to do besides see that their charges do not escape.
According to Warden Robert H. Armstrong; the officers keep track of progress which inmates make in their classrooms and in their jobs in the prison’s shops or farm.
Individuals attention from these supervisors keeps alive the hope for freedom and a better adjusted life for every inmate.
Of major importance is the operation of the prison’s hospital which is complete and modern in every respect. It is headed by Dr. manly B. Root, a physician of the U.S. Public Health Service which administrations hospitals in all federal prisons.
The hospital is manned by Dr. Root and four Health Service technicians who would be ranked as trained male nurses in civilian hospitals. Thirty-eight beds are available in 12 rooms. A complete dental clinic is in operation with an outside dentist in charge. As medical director Dr. Root can call in a consulting staff of eight civilian physicians.
Sick Call Daily
Sick call is held each morning and inmates need only to signify a desire to see the doctor to get on the sick book.
According to Dr. Root, his duties go deeper than the treatment of ordinary illnesses. Each new inmate is given a detailed physical exam. His physical condition aids in governing his classification and job and training. Physical defects which may be partially responsible for leading the inmate outside the law, are corrected at government expense.
Sex deviates, who are spotted soon after their arrival at La Tuna because most of them are sent to federal hospitals for special treatment.
“Our job is to be more than hospital.” Dr. Root said. “We have to be an integral part of the prison and take an active part in rehabilitation work.”
A well balance diet is fed to La Tuna inmates in a roomy, spotless dining hall which seats about half the prison’s population at one time. Working shifts are staggered so that the meals can be fed in two shifts.
Inmate cooks operate the kitchen and a bakery with a large gas oven where bread and pastries are cooked.
The men are fed cafeteria style. Because most of them are doing manual labor, the heaviest meal is served at noon. Here’s a typical menu for an evening meal” Creamed beef on toast, mashed potatoes, fresh tomatoes, bread, jello and coffee. A special concession is made to Mexican prisoners. Trays of prison-raised chili peppers are placed on every table.
Sleeping accommodations at La Tuna vary. The comparative low number of custody prisoners who require segregation are housed in a single block with single cells.
They are fed in their cells and are the only prisoners who do not have a free run of their own and other blocks during the day and early evening.
Par of the prisoners are housed in single-cells which contain a bunk, toilet and lavatory. They are allowed to have books and personal effects I their cells. All other prisoners are housed in large, airy dormitories. Rows of double bunks line the sides of the rooms. The dormitories resemble the average Army barracks.
Tobacco and toilet articles are issued the inmates. A commissary Is operated so they can purchase a limited variety of confections and other personal needs.
A baseball diamond and sports field offer the prisoners outside recreation. Often an outside team visits the prison for games.
A continuous program of academic activity is carried on for inmates who have less than a fifth-grade education. Inmate instructors are often used.
In addition to this program the prison offers an on-the-job-training program which can equip an inmate for a trade which he can pursue when his sentence ends.
In the prison’s modern dairy a man can learn much on operations of a milk plant. Other trades which may be learned in prison facilities are printing, laundry, cooking, garage mechanics, plumbing.
An auditorium on the second floor of one of the prison wings serves as a chapel and movie theater. Films are shown weekly.
Since a large majority of the inmates are Catholics a fulltime Catholic chaplain holds masses, hears confessions an supervises a religious program.
In addition, the Anthony Ministerial Association sends ministers in regularly to hold Protestant services.
“Our religious activity is a vital part of our program,” said Warden Armstrong.