In 1953, a special mayoral panel was convened to study the operations of the New York City Department of Correction. It recommended to Mayor Robert Wagner the creation of an unpaid citizen watchdog agency, the Board of Correction, to provide management and planning assistance to the Department and to monitor the City's jail system on behalf of the public.
In 1957, the Mayor appointed the Board's first nine members. They were Carl M. Loeb (Chair), Lisle C. Carter, Jr., Robert E. Curry, D. John Heyman, Rev. Vincent de Paul Lee, Rev. Robert J. McCracken, Rev. Sidney G. Menk, Rose M. Singer, and Ethel H. Wise. In 1988, Mrs. Singer's long and dedicated service to the Board and the City's jail system was officially recognized when the new women's facility on Rikers Island was named the Rose M. Singer Center.
In November 1975, the Board's recommendations to the Charter Revision Commission were adopted when the electorate approved a revised City Charter by referendum. As a result, on January 1, 1977 (the effective date of the new Charter), the Board's mandate was expanded in three significant ways:
Two additional 1977 Charter revisions were designed to promote independent BOC oversight of the Department:
Nationally, the Board remains a unique entity in the field of correctional oversight because of the breadth of its mandate, resources, and powers.