1928 - Alderson High School - 1968
FRW Memories Chapter Two
In 1953-54 the
Federal Reformatory for Women in Alderson was recovering from the effects
of a Lawsuit by many of the Female Correctional Officers. As a result of
the lawsuit there were hard feeling between the employees who had filed
the suit and those who had not sued, but had profited by the suit of the
others. There was also hard feeling among some of the Administrative Staff
for the people who had sued!
The case revolved
around the shifts and the hours worked by the Officers. The Correctional
Officers duty began at 2:00 PM,
when they were required to be at the cottage to relieve the Officer going
off-duty. She was then expected to supervise the activity in the cottage.
The inmates were locked in their rooms at 10:00 PM.
Only then could she go to the room and the bath that was designated in
each cottage as the “Officer’s Room! There she was required to spend the
she would go to the kitchen, make a big pot of coffee and awaken the
inmates who worked in the cottage kitchen. At
the rest of the cottage was awakened and after they had breakfast in the
Cottage Dining Room, she sent them to their work assignments around the
prison. The remainder of her shift she spent supervising the Cottage
Maintenance Crew and doing the reports and other tasks required. At
she would be relieved by another Officer and after she turned in her keys
and reports, she was free to go home until the next day at
when she would start the cycle again.
The Warden Nina Kinsella requested that the Chief Clerk, (the Business Manager) research the individual amounts that were owed the employees, (in a letter to the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, James Bennett, giving the totals owed to the individual employee, she listed two groups: those officers who had sued and those who had not joined in the action, but who would, of course, profit from it! Saying in the letter that she hoped her “Loyal” employees could be paid first! That discloses the feelings of the Administrative Staff at Alderson about the suit!
As mentioned before the officers who had agreed to have Attorney Betar represent them in the suit had also agreed to pay him a fee of 33 1/3 % of any money received, A number of persons did not avail themselves of his services. They, of course, also were entitled to Back Pay, but did not have to pay Betar a dime! There was a considerable amount of resentment among the employees whose actions had, in fact, benefited the employees who did not sue. That resentment lingers on even today!
A Male Correctional
Office, Abie Hurst, an officer of the local prison
was reputed to have been active in soliciting the women officers to sign
with Attorney Betar. It has been alleged that he was hired by Betar to do
so. Others have said that is not the case. In any event, as the suit
became more and more a matter of concern to the Bureau of Prison, Mr.
Hurst came into the crosshairs. His days at Alderson were numbered! It was
shortly thereafter he was transferred to a Federal Prison in
The highest Back-Pay mount was in excess of $33,000.00! The average was in the $16,000.00 range as I recall without going to my files! I recall my Aunt Mildred received a substantial sum.