Herbert Hoover photo

The President's News Conference

August 20, 1929


THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have a question relating to the consolidation of railways in the District of Columbia, asking if I will comment. Those are matters that must be dealt with by the Public Utilities Commission of the District of Columbia--[they] do not come up to me until they are ready to make some recommendation to Congress.


Also, I have a question wanting to know if I will appoint a Chief of Engineers. There has been no determination made about that yet.


I have a little information on the prison question. Through the cooperation of Secretary Good and the Attorney General we have found a temporary solution to at least a part of the overcrowding in the general Federal prisons. As you know, the Army has three major prisons--one at Blackwell Island, one at Leavenworth, which is separate from the general Federal prison, and one at Alcatraz Island. Those prisons are not fully inhabited. The Leavenworth prison has a capacity of 1,600 prisoners and is a very model establishment. And Blackwell Island and Alcatraz are both short of their full complement at the present time, and some of the major Army post prisons are underoccupied. So that we are proposing, subject to being able to disentangle any legal difficulty, to transfer the Leavenworth military prison temporarily to the Department of Justice until such time as we can get appropriations and some construction done. That will give us room for about 1,600 men and enable us to take the worst of the overcrowding off the two major prisons at Leavenworth and Atlanta.

Q. Mr. President, do you mean the 1,600 by using Blackwell's Island ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it is for 1,600 at Leavenworth. We will use Blackwell's Island and Alcatraz to accommodate some of the men at present in Leavenworth and perhaps use some of the Army post prisons for short-term men.


I have one other question, and I am afraid I cannot give an adequate answer to it. It is a question in respect to discussions going on between Premier [J. Ramsay] MacDonald and Ambassador [Charles G.] Dawes. Obviously, as stated in the press, they relate to disarmament. I regret I am not in a position to make any statement to help you out much as [p.259] yet. I hope the time will come when I can illuminate that subject more for you. Otherwise, I have nothing on my mind.

Note: President Hoover's forty-fourth news conference was held in the White House at 12 noon on Tuesday, August 20, 1929. The White House also issued a text of the President's statement on the use of Army prisons to relieve Federal prison congestion (see Item 182).

Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211242

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