Grand Larceny

Tuesday, December 03, 1946

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

Disc has bent edge which explains jumped grooves at the end.

NYC Department of Correction radio program produced by WNYC. The generosity of a stranger leads boy down the road of crime. After drama, the classification board reviews his case.

A boy is sentenced to one year in the city pen. He remembers a night standing outside of the movie theater when he can't afford to go in. A man walks by and sees him crying and gives him some money to go in. So he starts to lie to strangers to get movie money from them. His dad worked all the time, and when he was around, he was mad; wanted all the children to grow up to have better jobs. The boy studied bookkeeping and shorthand. He behaves well but one time opens an unlocked locker and steals its contents.

The Classification Board (Hilda G. Schwartz, Secretary of the Board of Estimate, and attorney; Dr. Bertram Pollens, Executive Secretary, New York Consultation Center; Herman K. Spector, Director of Education and Recreation, Department of Correction; George E. Mears, Probation Officer, Kings County; Norman M. Stone, Correction Department Executive Secretary) reviews the case.

Schwartz: Tragically familiar pattern duplicated so many times it's often ignored. Insecurity and lack of affection.

Spector: Behavior expressed itself in facing the realities of the denial the boy felt.

Stone: This came about because of the family; the boy had to behave this way to get what he wanted.

Dramatization of the boy's high school years: he worked as a bookkeeper who didn't ask questions about what the company did. His boss asked him to do the books incorrectly to save in taxes. A new job working with an adding machine. He is given a raise because of his good work. He marries his girlfriend and starts selling insurance. He's not as good at sales, though, so he returns to the adding machine but is disappointed with his position now. He starts fighting with his wife and leaves the house a lot. He would go to bars but stopped because he couldn't afford it and doesn't want to socialize. Goes to the movies instead. One night there is a lady asleep in her seat when the movie ends. He wakes her up and catches her before she leaves without her bag. They walk out together and chat. She works in the beauty parlor across the street.

May be related to records 8642, 69925, and 8643 for different versions of this case.

Ends abruptly.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 8472


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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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