These inmates are adding a ball and chain — and they’re happy about it.
Convicts without commitment phobias have tied the knot 1,643 times in 44 state prisons in the last six years, according to Corrections Department records.
Love is most in the air at max-security Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville, home to about 2,200 prisoners, where wedding bells rang 145 times.
There were 144 Happily Ever Afters at Auburn Correctional outside Syracuse, almost always in the presence of Raymond Lockwood Jr. or his son Raymond Lockwood III, dairy farmers who officiate weddings at the prison. Lockwood III succeeded his father as an Aurelius town justice.
“I got a call a million years ago asking me if I would be available to do a wedding at the facility, and I had to think a long time about it, and I said ‘Well I guess,’” the elder Lockwood, 73, recalled of his first Auburn gig 30 years ago. “I thought it was maybe a prank call.”
He went on to perform hundreds of weddings — which pays $100 a pop — inside the state prison system, including some that made history.
He officiated the state’s first gay prison wedding in December 2011, between inmate Ronald Cook, 31, and ex-prisoner Marc Rodriguez, 34, who met while doing time at Auburn.
Long before notorious lifetime convict, Beltway Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, 35, married a woman earlier this month in a Virginia prison, Lockwood oversaw the nuptials of New York’s first “lifer,” convicted child rapist and killer James Moore. The 84-year-old married former prison volunteer Joyce Smith-Moore in 1989, the year the state began allowing inmates serving life sentences to tie the knot.
Lockwood said women travel far and wide to get hitched to their felon-fiancés, noting he’s had brides from Puerto Rico to California.
He and his son have a matter-of-fact approach to the unlikely side hustle.
“You follow the rules. You go in and do it, and you leave, you don’t make memories in a prison I guess,” said Lockwood III, 52, who inherited the role when he took over as town justice from dad.
Weddings at Auburn are held in the back of the visitation room, which resembles a school cafeteria, starting at 10 a.m. The bride makes the arrangements with the prison, they set the date and the deed is done in about 30 minutes. Two witnesses must be present.
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