Thieving Bookkeeper

Tuesday, November 05, 1946

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

NYC Department of Correction radio program produced by WNYC. A 45 five year old man has been stealing money from his employer to pay his rent. After drama, the classification board reviews his case.

Immigrant employed as a bookkeeper confesses to stealing $4000 from the company's welfare fund. Conversations between him and his landlord about his reliability paying the rent, antisocial behavior, and late hours. He's all alone in the city, goes to church, takes pictures. He may be engaged in some secret activities. According to the Board, he used the money he stole for "speculation."

Classification Board (Warden Edward F. Johnson, of Riker's Island Penitentiary; Dr. Bertram Pollens, Executive Secretary, New York Consultation Center; Dr. Harold R. Fox, Psychiatrist, Riker's Island Penitentiary; Captain Jerome Adler, Captain in charge of classification and assignment at Riker's Island; George E. Mears, Probation Officer, Kings County; Milton B. Lewis, Assistant Director of Education, Riker's Island; Norman M. Stone, Correction Department Executive Secretary) hears his case.

Mears: Only one previous arrest, for vagrancy, and his IQ is 123, the superior group. Scores high in clerical and mechanical tests. Oldest of 5 children raise abroad. Father died at 93, a retired professor. Only the inmate's sister is in the country. Completed a class in bookkeeping. Considered a highly capable employee. Lonesome and uneventful existence with few friends. Photography, reading, and flower planting. Not considered a criminal. No real interest with regard to improving himself, satisfied with marking time until parole. Main concern should be devoted to keeping him from being institutionalized.

Stone: He was not a worthwhile member of the community.

Fox: Should be studied carefully to understand underlying causes of antisocial behavior.

Pollens: No problem here; he can be trained. Not an accidental offender. It was not an accident. Suffers from serious personality or emotional disturbance which has been dormant until this time.

Stone?: Well educated but is not living a normal life. More or less an introvert. Using these funds for speculation to accumulate more money to gain the notice of others.

Lewis: Hid behind photography, so it might not be advisable to have him study further.

Stone?: This could open up other areas for him. Must learn how to be a member of a group, not a lone wolf.

Adler: Minimum custody risk.

Fox: Stealing to satisfy emotional needs. Aim help in that direction.

Johnson: Recreational activity could help him acclimate. Chance of reemployment in the same field is slim. Perhaps photography would be a better forum.

Stone: How can we stimulate this man to discuss his inner self?

Pollens or Fox: Chaplain would be a good means of making him open up. He attends church regularly.

Stone: We still don't know what happened to the money.

Mears: He had no funds at the time of his admission to the institution. His landlady mentioned he always lived on a much higher plane that the other tenants.

Johnson: Time in the institution should depend on what sort of program we can plan for him.

Pollens: Photography is a good nucleus from which to begin, however it won't be enough. Psychotherapy should be used as well to bring him in to a world of reality.

Stone: Were it not for his language handicap and accent, he could be used in schools as a coach for children in the field of accountancy and math, maybe even photography.

Mears: The sister in Chicago has been contacted. An organization from his native country in the city for financial assistance.

Fox: Withdrawn completely from associating with other people. His hobbies helped him to remain by himself. He spends a great deal of his time alone. He reads and goes to places of amusement alone. I think this man could be labeled as a schizoid personality, by which I mean someone who is withdrawn and avoids other people.

Pollens: He may want to return to an old trade.

Unidentified: This is evidence of him withdrawing even more.

Mears: We feel he is in need of psychiatric treatment. Medically perfect. Educationally, needs some training in English and could be used as a math coach. Vocationally worthwhile; could probably make a trade of anything. Will be assigned to the photographer of the institution. Will not work alone. Will be encouraged to work with others. Chaplain will talk with him.

Credits list actors and panelists. [Narrator says Serling's name "Sterling." Also, the cast is made up of two men and one woman, though there were two female characters and one male.]

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 69892
Municipal archives id: LT923


Jerome Adler, Harold R. Fox, Edward F. Johnson, Jack Lazarre, Milton B. Lewis, George E. Mears, Alan Moss, Bertram Pollens, Lucia Ryder, Rod Serling 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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