Author: ÜNLÜ MUCIZE
*Professor in 19 Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey
According to one archival source from the 1800s, the castle, situated amid the Samsun town centre, was being used as an open prison for the culprits of the state and operated as such until the big fire of 1869 that demolished the city .In 1866, a newspaper dated on the 6th of January issued some information on Samsun’s government house. According to this historical data, the government house had been constructed one hour away from the city centre on the shoreline to the way of Kılıch Dede mosque.Owing to the ruined condition of this mansion a new government office was scheduled to be built. At the same time demands were made that a prison had to be constructed near the quarantine building on the coast . After the big fire of 1869 , during the reconstruction of the city, a new government house was built in the centre of the city . This government house had two storeys, consisting of 28 rooms and the Canik Central Prison was next door on the sea fort . This prison was built on a 2,850 ell wide land and had a 150 person capacity. Beside it, there was a separate facility for women with a capacity of 10 beds .
The Administrative Council of Canik informed the Ottoman central government that the prison was insufficient for the prisoners, as the polluted air of the jail facilities caused health problems, and demanded the reconstruction of the prison . The report of Anatolian Inspector Ahmet Şakir Pasha in mid-1888 demonstrates that this demand was satisfied. According to this report, the Canik Central Prison had been built from stone and brick a few years before and there were 228 prison cells in 1888. It was also mentioned in this report that the Canik Prison was in a good condition compared to other prisons. Unlike other provincial prisons there was a sick room. There was a separate section for minor offenders, that were punished by corporal punishment and their prison term was short. According to Ahmet Şakir’s report, the prison did not have heating problems. The guardians performed their duties well and the prisoners were peaceful. In the prison’s entrance there was a room for the warden and his clerk and another room for the guardians. The prison warden’s salary was 300 kuruş, the clerk’s 200 and the guardians’ 160 kuruş. There were 8 guardians in total in the prison. The Canik Prison was the best prison inspected by Ahmet Şakir. Its good condition was the result of the good duty of governor Hamdi Bey . Some time after Ahmet Şakir’s report, the local governors of Canik applied to the Ottoman government for the reconstruction of the prison because of its ruined condition . In the following years, these appeals were repeated for reasons of the unfavourable condition of the prison. The local governors indicated that the prison should be strengthened and that the prison conditions should be reformed .
In 1898, there were ten officers on duty in this prison. The warden’s name was Hafız Osman Efendi and the clerk’s name was Mahir Efendi. There were 8 guardians . It is understood that there was no change of officers in the year 1900 . The total salary amount of the prison officers was 360 kurush (Ottoman silver coin) in 1911. The cost for each prisoner was 1,150 kurush (Ottoman silver coin) . The prison was affected by the cholera epidemic that broke out in Canik in 1910. In the same year there were 350 prisoners in the 200 person capacity prison. Two prisoners were put under psychiatric observation for cholera symptoms and 150 prisoners were sent to another building as an added precaution . Despite precautions like these, problems like conjestion and deficient personal subsisted. These soon resulted in health problems and jailbreaks. Despite attempts from the local governors and interventions from the consuls, the problems augmented and blew out of proportion during World War I .
 Mehmet Yavuz ERLER, “XIX. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Karadeniz Sahil Kalelerinin Yöre Sosyo-Ekonomik Yapısına Olan Katkıları”, International Committee of Pre-Ottoman and Ottoman Studies (CIEPO), Trabzon 2011, p.785.
 Baki Sarısakal, Gezginlerin Gözüyle Amisos’tan Samsun’a, published by Samsun Büyükshehir Belediyesi, 2010 Samsun, p. 16; Ruzname-i Ceride-i Havadis, 21 Shaban 1282 (9 January 1866), Issue: 320.
 Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “Karadenizde Avrupai Bir Kent: Samsun (1865-1875)”, Karadeniz Tarihi Sempozyumu, Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi Yayınları, Vol.I, Trabzon 2007, p. 555.
 Musa Çadırcı, “19. YY. 2. Yarısında Karadeniz Kentleri (Trabzon ve Samsun)”, İkinci Tarih Boyunca Karadeniz Kongresi Bildirileri 1-3 Haziran 1988, Samsun 1990, pp.15-23.
 Selim Özcan, “1883 (1299) Samsun Hükümet Konağı Yangını”, Ondokuz Mayıs Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 11,(1998), pp. 250-264.
 Osman Köse, “Canik’te Asayiş (1911-1914)”, in Cevdet Yılmaz (ed.), Geçmişten Geleceğe Samsun, 2, Samsun 2007, pp. 159-177.
 Mucize Ünlü, “Hapishane Reformu Sürecinde Canik Hapishanesini Islah Çalışmaları (1876-1918)”, in Cevdet Yılmaz (ed.), Geçmişten Geleceğe Samsun, Samsun 2007, pp. 179-195.
 Gültekin Yıldız, Osmanlı Devleti’nde Hapishane Islahatı (1839-1908), (MA Thesis, İstanbul Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, İstanbul 2002).
 Baki Sarısakal, Samsun’da Unutulmayan Olaylar,1, (Samsun: Samsun Büyükşehir Belediyesi Kültür Yayınları, 2008), p. 29.
 PMA, Y.PRK.DH, 3/30, 8 May 1305/20 May 1889.
 Trabzon Vilayeti Salnamesi (1898), 17, (ed: Kudret Emiroğlu) (2007), (Ankara: Trabzon İl ve İlçesi Eğitim, Kültür ve Sosyal Yardımlaşma Vakfı Yayınları), p.599.
 Trabzon Vilayeti Salnamesi (1900), 18, (ed: Kudret Emiroğlu) (2008), (Ankara: Trabzon İl ve İlçesi Eğitim, Kültür ve Sosyal Yardımlaşma Vakfı Yayınları), p. 407.
 Ibid, Köse, p.167.
 Rıza Karagöz, “Canik Sancağı’nda Karantina Uygulaması ve Bundan Kaynaklanan Bazı Sorunlar (1910-1911)”, 19 Mayıs ve Milli ve Mücadelede Samsun Sempozyumu 20-22 Mayıs 1999, ( Samsun 2000), p. 205-218.