History of Probation

Variations on the concept of probation supervision date back as far as 437 B.C. However, John Augustus, a cobbler from Boston, Mass. is credited as being the "Father" of modern probation.

In 1841, Augustus first proposed that the court release offenders to his care in the hopes of rehabilitating them and assisting them in becoming productive members of society. He took into consideration such factors as age and character when deciding which defendants would be appropriate for release into the community. Augustus is also credited with developing and implementing the presentence investigation and report.

History of Probation in Madison County, New York

The Madison County Probation Department has been in existence since 1915. At that time, the department consisted of one woman, Mrs. Carrie Cornell, whose home served as the probation office from 1915 to 1948. In conjunction with her duties as probation officer, she was also a matron for the Oneida City Police Department and a Madison County Special Deputy Sheriff. Mrs. Cornell was known for the many acts of kindness she performed for those in need.

Subsequent to Mrs. Cornell's retirement, the Probation Department was relocated to the Madison County Courthouse in Oneida, New York.

Since 1989, the department has been housed in Veteran's Memorial Building. It is currently comprised of: the director, two supervisors, four senior probation officers, five probation officers, a probation officer trainee and three administrative support staff.

Carrie Cornell

Carrie CornellOn May 7, 1997 a portrait of Carrie R. Cornell was unveiled in Madison County's Probation Office in Wampsville, New York. The dedication ceremonies which posthumously honored Mrs. Cornell included recollections of her life and career presented by the probation director James Phelan, members of Zonta Culb of Oneida Area and several guests whose lives were touched by the honoree. The Probation Department and the Zonta Club co-chaired the event.

Mounted alongside Cornell's portrait painted by Pam Lynch is the following citation written by James Phelan and Virginia Seminaroti:

Carrie Cornell came to Oneida from East Davenport in Delaware County, New York where she was born in 1878. She married Harvey Cornell in 1903.

Mrs. Cornell was appointed the first Madison County Probation Officer on February 5, 1915. For the next 33 years she was the probation department. With the exception of some part time stenographic help, she was the only county probation official until her retirement at age 70.

Carrie was a proud and active member of the Zonta Club of Oneida and a member of the First Methodist Church, its Women's Society and Bible class. She was also a member of Mitzpah Rebekah Lodge 86 100F.

Records reflect that Carrie was considered a "pioneer" in the field of probation. In 1941 she was appointed to the advisory committee of the New York State Conference of Probation Officers. Her home at 330 Leonard Street, Oneida served as the probation office. She kept daily office hours including Saturday and Sunday and even had a bed in her house for women and children in the event of an emergency.

In addition to her probation responsibilities, Mrs. Cornell was a matron for the Oneida City Police Department and a Madison County special deputy sheriff. Prior to entering probation work she was employed as a compositor for the Oneida Dispatch and Democratic Union. She was also a correspondent for several weekly newspapers.

Carrie was a woman of many interests. She was known for her charitable works which included distributing clothing, food and toys to families and children in need. She often found time for her writing hobby. She penned several skits, poems and short stories, and some of her writings were published in social magazines.

Among her many awards was the Roses for the Living Award from the Oneida Rotary Club in 1947. In 1948 she was selected as the First Lady of the Year by the Alpha Omicron Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi sorority. She also received a citation from the Salvation Army for the many years she served on its board.

After her retirement in 1948 Carrie remained in Oneida until her death on March 10, 1960. She was laid to rest in the Valley View Cemetery.