8 Prisons That Might Be Haunted

Spooks and gadzooks! You’ve felt it before: the cold chill, the creepy presence, unexplainable sounds. You know when you’re in the presence of the paranormal. Even if you’re a skeptic, old prisons are downright creepy. With torture devices, housing for POWs, and years of executions, it’s no wonder that several of the United States’ and Britain’s prisons are often explored for their paranormal activity. Whether you’re looking for thrills, chills, or to hunt a spooky specter, check out these eight prisons that might (definitely) be haunted.

  1. Alcatraz

    The California island fortress prison is infamously known for its legendary inmates and escapes, but it’s also a prime point for practitioners of the paranormal. Several ghost stories originate from these walls, including the tale of 14D, where an inmate once reported that a creature with glowing eyes would kill him during the night. His screams were unanswered, and by morning, he was strangled to death. No one ever took credit for the man’s death. The prison also boasts the ghost of Al Capone, playing his banjo from inside the thick stone walls.

  2. Mansfield Reformatory

    Opened in Ohio in 1896, the Mansfield Reformatory (closed in 1990) boasts many haunted sites inside its prison walls — the administration wing, the chapel, the infirmary, several cell blocks, and the basement are all said to be haunted. The spirit of a 14-year-old who was beaten to death is said to haunt the basement, and many visitors complain of overwhelming nausea after a visit to “The Hole,” the solitary chamber where many prisoners died during Mansfield’s years as a functioning prison. The site was the subject of Haunted Investigators‘ first show. You can’t get more spooky than that!

  3. Eastern State Penitentiary

    Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary is said to be one of the most haunted places in North America. Quakers originally ran the facility, and wanted the inmates to have few distractions in an attempt to bring them to God. The truth is more like inhumane punishments and crazy-making solitude. Famously, a locksmith working to break a 140-year-old lock in Cell Block #4 was so overtaken by negative spirits that he spoke passionately of the experience for the rest of his life.

  4. Tower of London

    The Tower of London is perhaps Britain’s most famously haunted structure, and the site boasts an extremely bloody past. The tower, which was a prison for ne’er-do-wells and nobles alike (as well as home, for a time, to the Royal Menagerie of zoo animals), played host to years of torture, grisly beheadings, and many murders. Anne Boleyn was famously beheaded there by Henry VIII, and her ghost is said to haunt the tower still. Thomas A. Becket, Sir Walter Raleigh, and the feisty Countess of Salisbury have all been reported as paranormal figures in the tower, and the spooky reputation has made the structure one of London’s top tourist traps.

  5. Moundsville

    The Moundsville Penitentiary of West Virginia opened in 1876, and in its 110-year history came to be known as one of the bloodiest sites in American history. Violence, harsh punishment, and suicides occurred on its grounds, but poor recordkeeping makes it impossible to know the exact number of souls stamped out at Moundsville. The prison housed several Gothic-style torture devices, and its dismal past makes this prison a favorite destination of ghost hunters. The chapel, the showers, and death row are particularly known for being hotbeds of paranormal activity.

  6. Stateville

    Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Ill., is one of the many places executions were carried out by electrocution in the 20th century. John Wayne Gacy, one of the country’s most extreme serial killers, was executed within Stateville’s walls. The prison uses a panopticon concept, a circular building with an observation post at the center reminiscent of utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Proximity to Joliet and scary stories from locals (who call the place “hell on earth”) have prompted many ghost stories and much speculation about the prison, which is currently still in use. A prison-themed haunted house is a major attraction of the area.

  7. Joliet

    This Illinois prison is near Stateville, and it looks more like a Gothic castle than a penitentiary. Joliet was home to Civil War POWs and criminals alike, and was closed in 2002. The famous prison was featured in Blues Brothers, but that’s not what makes people curious about what went on inside Joliet’s walls. Executions were performed there, and stories of a hitchhiker named Mary and singing ghosts have long captured the imagination of both locals and worldwide ghost seekers.

  8. The Clink

    Home to more than just the nickname, the Clink Prison in London is now a museum. Dating back to 1144, the penitentiary is perhaps the oldest organized jail in England’s history, leaving it ripe for many a haunting. One corner of the museum has had upwards of 50 reports of a woman prisoner seated, playing with chains. The historic institution and museum sit on the site of the old prison, and no mere mortal or ghost hunter is safe from paranormal activity within its walls.

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