Prison Museums in America
There are well over one hundred prison museums in America. Each holds a mystique that enthralls the imagination of many people around the world. Many of these museums that were once prisons are known for a history of violence, inhumane living conditions and cruel treatment of prisoners. A few of the most notable prison museums are:
• Alcatraz- AKA “The Rock” located approximately one and one half miles from the shore of San Francisco, California the now prison museum was originally a light house built in the mid 1800’s . It served briefly as a military base, then a military prison until 1906 following the San Francisco earthquake; civilian prisoners were transferred from other facilities. In 1934 Alcatraz became a federal prison and home to many infamous criminals such as Al Capone. In 1963 it was closed and has since been turned into a museum.
• Ohio State Reformatory- Hollywood put this one time prison on the map for tourism. With many productions filmed while still in operation including “Tango & Cash”. “The Shawshank Redemption” was also filmed at the prison shortly after being closed down by federal mandate during its years of operation, over two hundred people died within its walls. The “OSR” has been subject of many paranormal investigations as many believe the occupants are still wandering the grounds and cell blocks. It has also been named one of the scariest places in the world.
• Eastern State Penitentiary- Probably the first prison built with the theory of rehabilitation and penitence. Its structure was designed to allow for solitary confinement in hopes the prisoners would find solitude and “open up to God”. Imploring a gothic style the cells only had a window or skylights for light. Under the strict rule of solidarity experts argue that severe mental illness can unfold. The prison was shut down in 1971 and has since become a museum and holds an annual Halloween event known as “Terror behind the Walls”.