RG 059. Department of Corrections
Identifier: RG 059
In the 1830’s, it was decided that a State Prison would be built to operate over the various county jails scattered throughout the state. A site in Providence was chosen in 1835 and the building process began. The prison was opened in 1838 and a group of Inspectors of Prisons was put in charge of the administration of said facility. In 1877, a newly created unified body, the Board of State Charities and Corrections, assumed this aforementioned responsibility. This board was put in charge of a new State Prison to be built in Cranston; appropriations and planning for this facility began in 1877 and the prison was opened the following year. In 1917, PL 1917, chapter 1470, formed a Penal and Charitable Commission to assume the responsibilities of the former Board of Charities and Corrections. In 1923, the Public Welfare Commission was formed to assume the aforementioned duties. In 1935, authority over the various state prisons was given a departmental title. The Department of Public Welfare was formed, by PL 1935, chapter 2188, and made to include, among others, a Division of Jails and Reformatories to oversee the upkeep and administration of the prisons. In 1939, as part of the Administrative Act that reorganized and consolidated Rhode Island State Government, PL 1939, chapter 660, the Department of Public Welfare was formed into the Department of Social Welfare, assuming the same role it had been assigned four years previously. Another name change was in effect in 1954, to the Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services. In 1972, the Department of Corrections was officially formed under statutory authority in PL 1935, chapter 163. Assuming the responsibilities of the former Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services, specifically its Division of Correctional Services, DOC was organized to accommodate differing aspects of the correctional system including separate adult, youth, and business services. In 1976, alterations were made as to the functionality of the department; the director’s duties were defined, new divisions were established, and the foundation for DOC was formed. Today, DOC stands to be the administration of Rhode Island’s state prisons, overseeing the functionality, quality, and development of the state’s correctional systems.