Boy Steals Radio

Wednesday, December 11, 1946

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

WNYC's public service series with NYC Department of Correction. Dramatization and meeting of Corrections Classification Board. Boy steals radio and thinks it's his ticket to the future. After dramatization, Classification Board reviews his case.

Early one morning (late in the night), a boy was walking down a quiet street thinking about leaving town. He's stolen a radio to pay for the ticket, and as he walks down the street (to sell it?), a police officer approaches him and asks about the radio. The boy's mother died when he was a boy, the father remarried to a woman who didn't care for the other children well. The father drank too much. The boy was sent to Children's Village for stealing a handbag. Arrested again for breaking a restaurant window. Fought with other children. After discharge from there, arrested again for robbery. Not employed, sent to Warwick Training School, ran away. Was stealing the radio to get away from there. Sentenced to 3 years in the reformatory. Got in to fights frequently. The super superintendent questions him about iodine and razorblades in his possession. The boy hit him and he was sent to Riker's, where he works on a sanitation squad.

Classification Board (Charlotte Carr, Executive Director of the Citizens' Committee on Children in New York; Captain Joseph A. Cukas, in charge of in-service training, Department of Correction; George E. Mears, Probation Officer, Kings County; Herman K. Spector, Director of Education and Recreation, Department of Correction; Dr. Bertram Pollens, Executive Secretary, New York Consultation Center; Norman M. Stone, Correction Department Executive Secretary) reviews his case.

Stone: Product of an abnormal home.

Carr: This boy has a right to have hostility towards all society. No one has ever tried to get inside his mind before this. To whom can he tell his troubles?

Mears: Make clear to the boy that he has a right to feel this way; this justification might prevent his hostility.

Stone: Because of his abnormal upbringing, he is not an abnormal mental case. It is our responsibility to plan a program for him over the next 2 years. How can we return him to the normal state he had before his mother died?

Pollens: If we can succeed in bringing him to tears, we could succeed in drawing him out and breaking down his armor.

Spector: During the day and evening hours he should try to catch up on education.

Cukas: Keep him on his current assignment for at least 3 months to establish a routine. [He is an institutional problem.]

Mears: He should be in contact with the social worker. Chaplain.

Stone: An isolation bloc?

Carr: Shocked at the amount of money spent on a boy who could have been saved this trouble if he had had the proper service through public schools. Will the officers the boy sees every day have the same sensitivities of the board?

Pollens: Keep the man in the reception company because that officer is specially trained.

Stone: This boy will be a problem in this institution, too, if we can't realign his entire train of thought. Reclassification in 3 months. Psychiatrist and case worker visits regularly. Officers must treat him with sympathy. Limited recreational activities, some educational courses.

Credits list actors and contributors.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 8279


Charlotte Carr, Joseph A. Cukas, Kit Davidson, Kenneth Greenberg, Jack Lazarre, Al Marshak, George E. Mears, Bertram Pollens, Rod Serling, Herman K. Spector and Norman M. Stone


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About Toward a Return to Society

With a mix of drama and industry assessment, this program (1946) aims to cast prison time as rehabilitative rather than punitive time. General details are provided about each inmate's health, mental state, and crime.  

From the program announcer, “WNYC will offer the first of a new series of public service programs tonight from 8 to 8:30 o’clock when ‘Toward a Return to Society’ makes its premiere broadcast…Designed to acquaint New Yorkers with the work of the Classification Board of the Department of Correction, the series will present radio sessions of the board’s meeting during which actual cases will be discussed…

“Composed of psychiatrists, penologists, wardens, social workers and psychologists, the Classification Board sits in review of each convicted person’s case. Members to be heard during the first four broadcast sessions are Commissioner of Correction Peter F. Amoroso, Norman M. Stone, George E. Meares, Herman K. Spector, Capt. Jerome Adler and Dr. Bertram Pollens.

“Dramatic portions of the script are written by Lilian Supove and the entire presentation is under the supervision of Seymour N. Siegel.”


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