If you steal from me, I will HAUNT you down!

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Haunted History.. Eastern State Penitentairy

Prison. No one likes the thought of being in prison, caged like an animal. Just the thought alone is unbearable. Think of how it is for those that really are incarcerated. Some, for the rest of their natural lives.

Prisons, for the most part want to reform their prisoners. Not just punish them for their misdeeds. Some prisoners do turn from their life of crime, and even find new found faith in the deity of their choosing. Sad though, that it takes being locked away from the rest of society for them to rethink things. Often, when it is too late.

But for today, we shall concentrate on one specific of the Penal System's prisons that sadly went wrong and lost sight of the true reasoning behind their "mission".

Eastern State Penitentiary.

It was not too long after the Revolutionary War. Finally, the United States of America was no longer under British Rule's thumb and being lead by King George III.

Most prisons back in those times were geared to reforming the prison populous in many of the ways that we wish to do so today. They reformed the prisons educationally, medically and also in governmental standards. Democracy in the newly recovering country was at the time, of most importance, as well. But their "democracy" was a far cry of how it is in the treatment of today's prisoners.

For the most part though, most of the prisons of that time were just "holding" cells. They incarcerated men, women, and yes, even children. Petty thieves were not uncommon types to be found behind their bars. Sadly, abuse and even mutilations were not uncommon to take place.

During the year 1787, in Philadelphia, powerful men had met within Ben Franklin's home. This group was named "The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons". Long name, if I don't say so myself. These men felt that the way prisoners of their time were being treated had to change. And for the better.

Dr. Benjamin Rush, who was apparently the Society's 'spokes person', stated that the goal of the group was to build a "true penitentiary, a prison designed to create genuine regret and penitence in the criminal's heart".

After thirty years of pushing this radical idea of reform among the prison population, a brand new prison building was being constructed with the reform ideals in mind.

Eastern State Penitentiary opened it's doors to let in it's first prisoners in 1829. It was one of the most expensive construction projects of its time. There would be no corporal punishment brought to it's charges. But instead, spiritual reflection, as well as change.

The Quaker-type methods were used (as many Americans of the century were of that Religious faith). Isolation and heavy labor was the norm for prisoners at Eastern State.

They felt that giving these two proponents would instill the wanting and the need to change. Also, when the prisoners were being moved from their cell, the guards would place hoods over the person's head, as to keep them from socializing and to continue in their solitude and reflection.

The only light that came in to the prison cell was from skylights that were built in. They were deemed "Heaven's Light", to let the prisoner look up to God, and let God see them. Their only literature was the Bible.

Other than these things, prisoners at Eastern State in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had no other outside contact. They were not allowed to have socialization with fellow inmates. Nor were they allowed visitors from the outside world. To do so, would interfere in the prisoner's time to reflect, repent, and turn from their ways.

In 1971, Eastern State Penitentiary had its doors closed for good. One hundred and forty-two years after the doors opened, and they had encased Prisoner Number One, Charles Williams. The closing was mostly due to the fact that the elderly prison was in desperate need of major repairs. But, the additions that were done over the previous years left the prison with not enough dough to work with.

Now, remember earlier, I had stated that horrendous abuse had occurred while the prison was open for the first many years? No human contact was allowed. Beatings, floggings and other atrocious acts were brought upon the prison's unfortunate souls that had been forced to reside there. Some were chained to the walls, half naked. Some placed in complete darkness, with no food. Even the "iron treatment" was allowed. Many became completely nuts and driven to permanent insanity, due to their "living" conditions.

Willie Sutton, Al Capone and even Pep, the dog (that killed the Governor’s cat) were just a few of the more "famous" inmates that reportedly had spent some of their time in prison at ESP.

Now, on to the reported haunting activities that have supposedly happened..

Over in Cell Block Twelve, there is a disembodied laugh. There is no specific location of exactly what cell it is emanating from.

Cell Block Six has people abuzz in regards to having the most shadowy figures and forms. But these shapes form pretty much everywhere within the prison.

Many reports from tourists of Eastern State Penitentiary state that they feel like they are being closely watched and some, even followed around.

Tour Information...


Every Day, Twelve Months A Year:

10am to 5pm
(last entry: 4pm)

Summer Twilight Hours:

June through August

Wednesday evenings until 8 pm

Last Entry: 7 pm

No reservations necessary.

**Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.**

***Children under the age of 7 cannot be admitted.***

Ticket Office (215) 236-3300


ESP History

America's Most Haunted Prison

1 comment:

singedwingangel said...

Ok I had never heard of this place.. and I don't think I will be visiting it anytime soon lol

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