Great tour of a prison

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Oblio13, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. Oblio13

    Oblio13 Songster

    Jan 26, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I'm in Philadelphia today and took a tour of the abandoned "Eastern States Penitentiary". I'd recommend it very highly to anyone in the area.

    Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush were in on the planning. At the time it was the largest and most expensive building in America. It had heating and plumbing when even the president in the Whitehouse was using fireplaces and chamber pots.

    In those days, governments had no way to positively track or even identify people. No dental records, fingerprints, retinal scans, drivers licenses, DNA samples, not even photographs. Officials had no idea what recidivism rates were. There were a number of social theories about prison reform floating around.

    The largely Quaker school of thought was that if criminals had quiet, reflective time with religious instruction they would be moved to penitence. That's where the word "penitentiary" comes from. Never knew that until today.

    So 7'x12' individual soundproof cells were built, each containing a cot, toilet, and table. Prisoners spent their entire sentences in those cells. Food was delivered via a tiny door. No mail, messages or visitors were allowed. No human contact of any kind was allowed except with religious instructors. Guards in the corridors wore socks over their shoes so that not even footsteps would be heard. Each prisoner was issued a bible. No other reading material was permitted.

    It didn't reform criminals or bring them to penitence, it drove them insane.

    Pretty spooky place to wander through.
  2. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

    Oct 13, 2007
    Prison's facinate and weird me out all at the same time!
  3. chickiebaby

    chickiebaby Songster

    Jan 2, 2008
    western mass
    Okay, Oblio, I totally want to go. Should be down there some time this fall.

    I worked in a max security prison - the modern kind, tho - for a little while. There are certainly a variety of ways to think about prison -and a variety of ways to go nuts.

    If you are interested in historical prisons, I recall that Alcatraz, wihle touristy and kinda gross in that way, has absolutely beautiful sound tours produced by a theatrical company. You can hear the echoing footfalls, the jeering inmates, the seagulls, stories told by old guys who were inmates, each reflecting right where you are when you here them, the whole deal, as you walk around this deserted misery of a rock.

    Anyway the Philadelphia thing sounds great.
  4. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

    Mar 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Wow that sounds really neat. Philly is about an hour drive from me. I think there was actually a trip through my college there last year, but I would love to go this year. must be real creepy around Halloween! Did you have to pay and where in Philly was it?
  5. kinnip

    kinnip Songster

    Feb 24, 2008
    Carrollton, GA
    I feel a little insane just reading about it.
  6. menageriemama

    menageriemama Songster

    Feb 2, 2008
    Lake Nebagamon, WI
    [​IMG] Sounds like educational, creepy fun!!!
  7. happyhen

    happyhen Songster

    May 8, 2008
    Northeastern Ohio
    I love prisons, as well as churches and cemetaries. So much history, and such examples of our feeble attempts at enlightenment.

    DH is retired law enforcement, and living in NE Ohio we are both very familiar with one of the most beautiful (from the outside) prisons, The Ohio Penitentiary at Mansfield, the setting for Shawshank Redemption and Prison Break. Awesome, historic and haunted.
  8. kdcrws

    kdcrws Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    L.C. FL
    saw that place on an episode of Ghost Hunters! Really spooky cool. We call it the "Dude run episode" [​IMG]
  9. Marlinchaser

    Marlinchaser Songster

    Oct 18, 2007
    I visited a prison once or twice in my younger days, not a state pen, more like a county jail and city jail, you couldnt make me go back without putting me in restraints, now that I think about it, thats how they got me there the first time. [​IMG]
  10. happyhen

    happyhen Songster

    May 8, 2008
    Northeastern Ohio
    [​IMG] Marlinchaser!

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