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Anna Kross

KROSS, ANNA (née Moscowitz; 1889–1979), U.S. lawyer, penologist, and penal administrator. Born in Nesheves, Russia, she studied law at New York University. As a student, she became interested in prisoners and penal reform, and volunteered for work visiting prisons. In 1933 she was appointed to the bench in New York City as a magistrate, the first woman judge in the city magistrate court. She was reappointed in 1940 and again in 1950. In 1946 she organized and became the first presiding magistrate of the Home Term Court of the Borough of Manhattan, an experimental social court dealing with the problems of troubled families. She initiated the development of psychiatric and guidance services to assist the court in dealing with severely disturbed families. During her 20 years in court, Kross fought the injustice of the bail system, by which suspects, some of them innocent, were kept under arrest because they could not afford bail or the bondsman's fee. In 1954 she was appointed commissioner of correction of the City of New York, serving until her retirement in 1966 at the age of 75. During her 12 years in this office, she endeavored to apply progressive ideas in correctional treatment in the system she administered. She conceived, planned, and established the reception and classification center on Rikers Island. This became the focus of a system designed to rehabilitate offenders by social casework, psychotherapeutic treatment, constructive recreational activities, academic and vocational education, guidance, and aftercare. She founded Friendly Visitors, Inc., a group of volunteers at the New York City House of Detention for Women dedicated to helping released prisoners adjust to life outside prison through vocational and educational programs and to help promote community acceptance of former inmates.


M. Wylie, 400 Miles from Harlem: Courts, Crime, and Correction (1972).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.