Current Corrections and Prison Museums
- Pennsylvania Prison Society
The Prison Society was one of the forces responsible for the founding of Eastern State Penitentiary in the 1800s. Their website also has many links to websites about incarceration today.
- Current Corrections Pinboard
Eastern State Penitentiary staff curates an ongoing collection of news articles related to contemporary corrections.
- Prison Maps
This website contains aerial views of prisons in the U.S.
People are fascinated by prisons. There are over 100 prison museums worldwide; and in the tourist-rich cities of San Francisco, London and Dublin, historic prisons are the single largest attractions. Below you will find the most comprehensive list of prison museums and related institutions on the Internet. If you know of a prison museum not included on this list, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This link list was compiled by the staff of Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Philadelphia. Please link directly to this page, rather than copying these links onto another website.
Fort Jesus Museum
Fort Jesus was built by the Portuguese in 1593 to protect their trade route to India and their interests in East Africa. Throughout its tumultuous history, the Fort changed hands no less than nine times between the Portuguese and Omani Arabs. When Kenya was made a British Colony, the British government used the Fort as a prison; this was the case until 1958, when the government declared Fort Jesus an historical monument under the National Parks, and later under the NMK. Excavation work was carried out between 1958 and 1962, when the Fort opened its doors to the public as a museum. Today Fort Jesus is a popular destination for foreign and local tourists, researchers, and students.
Robben Island, South Africa
For nearly 400 years, Robben Island, 12 kilometers from Cape Town, was a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment. It was here that rulers sent those they regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts and the unwanted of society.
Abashiri Prison Museum
Abashiri City Hokkaido, Japan
Located in the middle of Mt. Tento, this prison was in use until 1984. Though recently converted into a public museum, the grounds still retain their original appearance.
The five, single-story wooden hallways radiating from the rear of the building were the actual residences of the inmates once incarcerated here.
Andaman Cellular Jail
Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India
A radial plan prison, the Cellular Jail was originally built by the British with seven cellblocks extending from a central tower like spokes on a wheel. From 1906 to 1938 the prison was used to hold political prisoners in poor conditions. Today the prison is a National Memorial that honors Indian freedom fighters.
Andrey Sakharov Museum and Public Center
The Museum and Public Center is devoted to the preservation of the memory of Andrey Sakharov and all those who suffered and sacrificed under the totalitarian regime. Its purpose is to educate those unfamiliar with past abuses and to promote the continued development of intellectual freedom, respect for individuals and civil and social responsibility in Russia. The Museum's extensive “Totalitarian Past” exhibit includes photographs and maps of forced labor camps.
Changi Prison Museum
The Changi Museum is dedicated to all those who lived and died in Singapore, in particular the Changi area, during the years of World War II. Through documentation of significant events of the Japanese Occupation, the museum also is an important educational institution and resource center. As for the Prisoners-Of-War (POWs) and their families, it is a site that allows closure of the many emotional scars of the war years.
Corrections Museum, Bangkok
Built by the French, and lately mostly torn down, this museum houses a variety of torture instruments and exhibits that illustrate the suffering of its inmates.
The Gulag Museum is the only preserved labor camp in Russia. Between 1946 and 1987 “several thousand men, many charged only with the ‘crime’ of free speech, were transported under the cover of night to this maximum security prison to serve sentences as long as 25 years.” Today, the museum staff is focusing on preserving and reconstructing the camp, which contains historical research, artifacts, documents, and oral history.
Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum
Stanley, Hong Kong
The penal system in Hong Kong has a history of over 160 years. Numerous reforms and developments took place in response to the economic, political, judicial and social changes of Hong Kong at different points over this long stream of time. Inside the museum, visitors will find nine galleries, one mock gallows and two mock cells. A mock guard tower constructed on the top of the premises highlights the theme of the museum.
Peter and Paul Fortress
St. Petersburg, Russia
The Peter and Paul Fortress was founded on May 27, 1703 to defend St. Petersburg against enemy raids. From the middle of the 18th century it contained Russian political prisoners. In the 19th century the Peter and Paul Fortress scored the reputation of the main political prison of Russia. The complex included Peter and Paul cathedral, designed by D. Trezzini, which is the city's tallest building, the house of the "grandfather of the Russian navy," where an exact copy of Peter I's little boat is kept and the Mint.
Sodaemun-Gu, Seoul, South Korea
This is a living education site for Korean history where visitors can pay a high tribute to the patriotic ancestors of Korea who valiantly fought against the Japanese invasion for sovereign independence, and renew the determination of the spirit of independence. The museum consists of National Resistance Room, Prison History Room, In-Prison Life Room, Temporary Detention Room, and Torture Room.
Thebarton, South Australia
Built in the mid 1800s on a radial plan, like that first used at Eastern State Penitentiary, the Adelaide Gaol today is a museum and visitor's center. The gaol features artifacts including inmate made weapons and tools, as well as exhibits that portray the prisoners' daily lives.
Boggo Road Gaol Museum
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
A women’s prison from 1901 to 1921, this prison later became a facility for male prisoners. It was closed as a functioning prison facility in 1989 because of poor conditions and inmate unrest over treatment. The site reopened as a prison museum in 1992 and now offers tours.
The Fremantle Prison is one of Western Australia's premier heritage sites, centrally located in the heart of the port city of Fremantle. The Prison was built by convicts in the 1850s and was closed as a place of incarceration in 1991 after 136 years of continuous use. It was opened to the public in 1992 as a tourist site.
Hay Gaol Museum
This museum, at various times a prison, maternity hospital, hospital for the insane, prisoner of war detention center, and girls’ institute, hosts exhibits highlighting the history of the town.
Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Built between 1817 and 1819, the Hyde Park Barracks museum is a popular Australian historic landmark. It housed convicts until 1848 and later served as both an immigration depot and an asylum. The Georgian building was designed by accomplished convict architect Francis Greenway as an accommodation for his fellow convicts.
East Maitland, NSW, Australia
A key anchor attraction of New South Wales' Hunter Valley, Maitland Gaol has a vibrant history spanning more than 150 years. The gaol's foundation stone was laid in 1844 with the official opening and reception of the first prisoners occurring in December 1848. Built of local sandstone it is considered to be the most intact country gaol in New South Wales and is the longest continuously operating correctional institution in Australia. After housing some of Australia's most hardened and notorious criminals, Maitland Gaol closed as a Correctional Institution in January 1998. The cell doors have now been swung open, with visitors invited to serve time learning about the facility, past prisoners, executions and daring escapes.
Old Melbourne Gaol
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
The Old Melbourne Gaol was the first extensive gaol complex in Victoria. The first Melbourne Gaol was built in 1839, but it was far too small. A second gaol was built in 1841. What was officially a new wing, but really stage one of the third gaol, was built in 1852. This new jail was based upon the designs of the British prison engineer Joshua Jebb, and more particularly upon the Pentonville Model Prison in London. The gaol was finally closed in 1929.
Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur, Tasmania
Amidst humble beginnings as a timber station in 1830, Port Arthur grew into an impressive penitentiary built by convict labor. Although the penitentiary itself was gutted by fires in 1895 and 1897, this historic site still has much to offer visitors in prison education. Thirty buildings are open for tourist exploration, and there are a variety of tours available on the site, including ghost tours.
St. Michael, Barbados
The Barbados Museum, located at the Garrison, is housed in the former British Military Prison. The prison, whose upper section was built in 1817 and lower section in 1853, became the headquarters of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society in 1930.
Grenada National Museum
St George's, Grenada, West Indies
The building has stood the test of three centuries and was once used as a prison in the 17th century. Inside, one can capture the past of Grenada and trace its heritage from the period of Columbus, through colonization by the British and French, to the present day.
Model Prison Museum
Reparto Chacon, Nueva Gerona, Isla de la Juventud, Cuba
Construction of the so-called "Model Prison" began in 1926 and concluded in 1931. The island, then known as the Isle of Pines, was chosen because it was near to Cuba, but far enough away to discourage escape attempts. Twenty-four prisons in the country's six provinces were combined in one and all prisoners sentenced to more the 180 days were sent there. Before their exile in Mexico, the young revolutionaries who survived the storming of the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 1953, were among the inmates. One of them was Fidel Castro. The facility has been declared a National Monument.
Beaumaris, Anglesey, UK
At this nearly 400-year-old courthouse, visitors can sit in the seat of judgment and learn about notorious criminals.
Beaumaris, Anglesey, UK
In this massive building with dimly lit corridors, spartan cells and places of punishment including the unique treadwheel, visitors can see the condemned cell or experience the darkness of the punishment cell. They may handle chains and fetters last worn by prisoners a century ago.
Bodmin, Cornwall, UK
This Jail was built by the prisoners who brought the 20,000 tons of granite from Bodmin`s “Cuckoo Quarry.” During the First World War the Jail held state papers and the Doomsday book.
Border History Museum
Hexham, England, UK
The museum is located in the first purpose-built gaol (jail) in England - built in 1330 to imprison convicted Reivers. It concentrates on the history of the Reivers with reconstructions, artifacts and interpretation including the tragic tale of the Earl of Derwentwater, beheaded for his part in the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion.
Bridge of Sighs
Antonio Contino's bridge over the Rio di Palazzo was erected in the year 1600 to connect the Doge's prisons, or Prigioni, with the inquisitor's rooms in the main palace.
The Bridge of Sighs received its name in the 17th century, because the prisoners who passed through it on their way to the prison cells on the other side would most likely see the beautiful sight of the lagoon and the island of S. Giorgio and freedom for the last time. It is included in the tour of the Doge's Palace.
Cirencester, England, UK
Built in the early 19th century to detain criminals, this two cell lock-up was later used to build part of the workhouse in Cirencester. A history of lock-ups, as well as workhouses, can be found on display here.
London, England, UK
For centuries, the London borough of Southwark was in the Diocese of Winchester. As such, it fell outside the jurisdiction of London and became a safe haven for all sorts of "illicit" activities. The Clink Prison was owned by the Winchester Bishops and was used for the incarceration of religious offenders, debtors and other malefactors. The "Clink" as it has come to be called, burned down in the Gordon Riots of 1780, but the Clink Museum, located in an old warehouse basement, is there to paint a realistic picture of prison "life" in the middle ages.
Comfort Hotel Bilan
The old prison is that once held prisoners in cells, has been altered to hold tourists in 68 renovated rooms. A prison museum is also located within the building.
Cork City Gaol Heritage Center
Cork City, Ireland
Opened in 1824, and closed in 1923, this prison was used as a broadcasting station by the national radio station - Radio Eireann (now RTE) from 1927 until the 1950s. Tour programs began in 1993.
Crime Through Time Museum
Gloucestershire, England, UK
Formerly housed at Nicholson House, a haunted property with over 500 years of prison history, the museum now resides at Littledean Jail. A wide variety of historical artifacts can be found on display there, including a guillotine and body cages, a pictorial history of crime, bizarre fetishes, and Nazi and Ku Klux Klan paraphernalia.
Cromarty Courthouse Museum
Cromarty, Scotland, UK
Interpretation includes a reconstructed trial in the 18th century courtroom, children's costumes, prison cells, a video presentation of 800 years of Cromarty's history, artifacts, high quality display panels, an audio tape tour of the older part of the town and leaflets for walks in and around Cromarty.
Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site
Soon after the Nazis took power in 1933, Dachau Concentration Camp was built to handle the overflow from the jails. It evolved into a slave labor camp for Nazi industries. The entrance to Dachau had the Nazi slogan "Arbeit mach frei," or "Work will make you free." Tens of thousands died in Dachau, although it was never an extermination camp like those set up in Poland. Executions were more often for disciplinary measures. The camp had largely fallen into disrepair and was eventually turned into a memorial. There now stands several memorials honoring the thousands of people who suffered there during the Nazi regime.
Down County Museum
Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland, UK
After 1831, this gaol was emptied of its prisoners and used for other purposes. At various times it was used as a cholera hospital, military barracks, and a space for auctions and Girl Guide meetings. Although the gaol has not been used for its original purpose for nearly 180 years, many of the important features of the original gaol still remain.
North Yorkshire, England, UK
This original Prisoner of War Camp, built in 1942, is now an award-winning museum utilizing lights, sounds, and even smells in order to transport visitors back in time to wartime Britain.
Fuhlsbüttel Concentration Camp and Prison Memorial
When the Nazis came to power in Hamburg in early March 1933, persecution of all political opposition began here too. Within a few weeks, the Hamburg state police had set up a concentration camp on the premises of the Fuhlsbüttel prison. Within a very short time "Konzentrationslager Fuhlsbüttel" had become a byword for horror, suffering and death. When liberation came in May 1945, over 250 women and men had perished there, having been the victims of brutality, murdered or driven to their death.
Galleries of Justice
Nottingham, England, UK
Located on the site of an original county courthouse and gaol, this museum provides visitors with the opportunity to see historic cells and medieval caves as well as the Victorian courthouse and evidence from famous court cases.
Bautzen, Saxony, Germany
Bautzen I and Bautzen II in Germany illustrate a long history of political imprisonment. Both housed political “threats” during the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945: including Jehovah’s witnesses, Communists, and Social Democrats. With the end of WWII, they housed former alleged Nazi collaborators, anti-Stalinist bourgeois, and other persons arbitrarily arrested. Today, Bautzen I is an active penitentiary for men serving long sentences and is under the authority of the Ministry of Justice of the Free State of Saxony. Bautzen II closed in 1992, and was transformed by the Free State of Saxony and the Federal Republic of Germany into a memorial with the entire building open to visitors.
Once headquarters of the Ministry for State Security prison systems in Soviet East Berlin until reunification in 1989, Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen is now a memorial center, educational resource and tourist attraction. The memorial attempts to depict the oppression faced by political dissents imprisoned there.
The Gevangenpoort (prison gate) Museum
Hague, The Netherlands
In the 15th century, the Count of Holland started to use the main gate to his castle on the Binnenhof as a prison: the Prison Gate. During the 16th century the gatehouse was extended with a building for the law court of Holland. Suspects were not only locked up in the Prison Gate while awaiting their trial, but could be examined there as well. In the 19th century the last prisoner was released and the Prison Gate was turned into a museum.
Rochester, Kent, UK
The Guildhall is now a museum devoted to preserving Medway history from prehistoric times up to the twentieth century. One of the most impressive exhibits in the museum is the reconstruction of a Medway prison hulk ship, as used in the 18th century.
Hameenlinna Provincial Prison
This former prison was built in 1871 inside a medieval castle in Finland and was used as a house of corrections until 1993. The castle houses the prison museum as well as a former school and library room that is restored to look just as it did 100 years ago and can be rented out for meetings. Cells are used for exhibits and the prison museum strives to show the prison as it was when the last prisoners left.
Inveraray, Scotland, UK
Since opening in 1989, Inveraray Jail has established itself as one of Scotland's most exciting heritage attractions. Visitors can see the restored 1820 Courtroom where they can sit and listen to excerpts from trials of the past. In the prisons below, visitors can meet with the Warders, Matron and Prisoners in period costumes, as well as see the airing yards, furnished cells and experience prison sounds and smells.
Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum
Castlegate, Scotland, UK
Built as a Howard reform prison in 1823, this building is the only existing example of its kind in Scotland. The museum has a small display of items relating to 19th century prison life.
Kilmainham, Dublin County, Ireland
Kilmainham Gaol educates visitors about the origins of the modern Irish state. It was here that the rebels of the last 150 years of British rule were held and it was here that the leaders of the 1916 Rising were executed. These events had a profound effect on propelling Ireland to independence.
Lancashire, England, UK
Originally built as a Roman fort and following a succession of various owners, Lancaster Castle now operates as both a functioning prison and as a museum.
Långholmen Prison Museum
Today a hotel and hostel occupy the space where prisoners were once kept. Nearby is the Långholmen Prison Museum that illustrates the prison’s 250-year history that ended in 1975 when the prison closed as a penal facility.
Lincoln, England, UK
The prison was built on the castle green enclosure in 1787 and enlarged by the Victorians. Many prisoners here were deported to Australia and many more were executed on the ramparts. The prison chapel's design is rows of cubicles built so that felons could see the preacher but not their fellow inmates.
The Old Gaol Museum
Buckingham, England, UK
Like Eastern State Penitentiary, this Gaol looks like an intimidating castle from the outside. Original cells with double doors still remain, although the prison now is a museum that illustrates the history of Buckingham.
Pawiak is a name synonymous with oppression. Built in the 1830s, to serve as a tsarist prison, Pawiak came to the fore during WWII when it slipped into the hands of the feared Gestapo. During the Nazi occupation it became the largest political prison in Poland and saw over 100,000 inmates pass through its gates.
The Prison Museum
This German museum has vivid exhibits including a real guillotine and restored cells.
There is an exhibition here about Košice's past, housed in what was the city's main prison. What is also of interest is the prison itself, and in particular the tour of the underground torture chambers.
Musée National des Prisons
The museum, opened in 1995, is housed in a prison that operated from 1845 to 1990. The museum relates the history of the French prisons, prisoners, and officers.
Ruthin, Denbigshire, Wales, UK
Constructed in 1775, this gaol was abandoned in 1916 and was used as a munitions factory in World War II.
Stirling Old Town Jail
Stirling, Scotland, UK
For 400 years, Stirling's prisoners were kept in the old Tollbooth Jail. It was a stinking, overcrowded, place. Pressure for improvement and prison reform resulted in the opening of Stirling Old Town Jail in 1847. Designed by Thomas Brown and opened as a County Jail, the building was used as the only military prison in Scotland from 1888 until 1935. Restoration to its current use began in the early 1990s.
The students' prison was established in the late 18th century and was in use until 1914. For the students it was more an amusement than any real punishment for their crimes (burglaries, scuffles and forbidden duels). The paintings, autographs, comments and coat of arms prove that they were not ill treated in their small rooms equipped with one table, one chair, an iron bed with a sea grass mattress, a chamber pot and a spittoon.
Tower of London
London, England, UK
The Tower of London was built following the Norman Conquest to dominate London in the 11th century and to show the importance of the king at that time. It has been the holding place for many political prisoners, including Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII, and her daughter who later became Queen Elizabeth I.
Westgate Towers Museum
Canterbury, England, UK
Tours of Canterbury's medieval fortified gatehouse include the Guard Chamber, Murder Holes, Civil War Armory and City Walls Display. Visitors can see the prisoner in the Tower Cells, and climb to the roof for panoramic views.
Wymondham Heritage Museum
Wymondham, England, UK
This prison claims to be the model for single occupancy cells- an idea that gained wide popularity in America during the 19th century. From 1785 through 1878 the building housed convicts: it later served as a police station and a courthouse.
York Castle Museum
York, England, UK
The Castle Museum brings over 400 years of history back to life in its award winning exhibitions and displays. The buildings that house these displays have their own history. They were originally prisons. All sorts, from debtors to murderers, were jailed here. Some were even hanged here.
Yorkshire Law and Order Museums at Ripon
St. Marygate, Ripon, England, UK
This museum includes a red brick building which was once a well-equipped Victorian prison serving the needs of the Liberty of Ripon. The prison's origins go back to the 17th century when Houses of Correction were being set up nationally to tackle the problems of vagrancy and unemployment.
Acre Underground Prisoners Memorial Museum
From the time of the Crusades until the beginning of the State, this building was virtually impenetrable. It is a fortress, replete with moat. Built on the ruins of the Crusader period Citadel it was later rebuilt in the second half of the 18th century. The British converted it to serve as the main prison in Palestine during the British Mandate and therein lies much of its modern-day importance.
1897 Pauly Jail Museum
Union Springs, AL, USA
The oldest surviving jail in the state, the Pauly Jail, erected in 1897, is a three-story red brick structure. The Victorian Gothic style building is almost square in plan and looks like a small dungeon or brooding house. Today the jail serves as a museum. It sits behind the 1871 Second Empire Style Courthouse, adjacent to a beautiful landscaped park and gazebo.
San Francisco, CA, USA
Born of necessity, perhaps even political expediency, Alcatraz represents the federal government's response to post-Prohibition, post-Depression America. Arguably America’s most famous prison, Alcatraz operated as a Federal Prison from 1934 until 1963.
Alton Confederate Prison
Alton, IL, USA
The horrendous conditions at Alton Penitentiary forced its shutdown in 1857. Reopened in 1862 as a Confederate Prison, a portion of it is still standing.
American Police Hall of Fame
Titusville, FL, USA
Built in memory of police officers who died in the line of duty, the memorial has hundreds of names etched into the white marble memorial. A history of policing and methods of criminal punishment (such as a tramp chair) are also on display.
Anamosa State Penitentiary Museum
Anamosa, IA, USA
The Anamosa State Penitentiary is Iowa's largest prison, currently holding around 1200 adult male felons. The facility was established in 1872 to handle the overflow from the State Penitentiary in Ft. Madison.
Andersonville National Historic Site
Andersonville, GA, USA
Andersonville, or Camp Sumter as it was officially known, was one of the largest of many Confederate military prisons established during the Civil War. Today, Andersonville National Historic Site is the only park in the National Park System to serve as a memorial to all American prisoners of war throughout the nation's history.
Appomattox County Jail
Appomattox, VA, USA
This park is located on the site of the former Appomattox Court House, the county seat of Appomattox during the Civil War. All of the buildings on the site are restored to the year 1865, and the old Appomattox County Jail now functions as the Historical Museum.
Barron County Historic Society Museum/The Dallas Jail
Cameron, WI, USA
Built in 1903 by Andrew Anderson and Anton Nelson, the Dallas Jail was constructed of native sandstone during the laying of the Soo Line "Blueberry" railroad tracks from Barron to Dallas. The jail was built initially to handle the few railroad "Ruffians" that might cause problems during the construction of this line. In October 1972, the jail was dismantled and moved to the Barron Museum.
Burlington County Prison Museum
Mount Holly, NJ, USA
Designed by Robert Mills, one of America's first native-born and trained architects, the Burlington County Prison was completed in 1811. The prison was a fine example of innovative interior planning, fireproofing, heating and ventilation systems and the growing notion of social responsibility to rehabilitate criminals. Solidly built, this prison was in constant use until November 1965.
Cheyenne County Museum
Cheyenne Wells, CO, USA
This museum, which served as Cheyenne County's prison for nearly 75 years, invites visitors to admire its history and architecture from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year.
Correctional Service of Canada Museum
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
The CSC Museum houses a fascinating collection of artifacts relative to all aspects of correctional history in Canada. Contraband weapons and escape paraphernalia reflect inmate ingenuity and resourcefulness. Early punishment and restraint equipment show the methods that have been used to keep order and discipline in our institutions. Inmate hobby crafts show the lighter side of life in prison.
Costa Rican Cultural Center
San Jose, Costa Rica
The Costa Rican Scientific and Cultural Center is housed inside the former San Jose Penitentiary Building, a Costa Rican historical landmark. It includes a children’s museum, library, and the Penitentiary Historical Museum, which recreates the history of the penitentiary focusing on architecture, background, construction, and penal population.
Crime and Punishment Museum
Ashburn, GA, USA
The Crime and Punishment Museum traces the history of Georgia’s penal system from the opening of the first state prison in 1811 to Georgia’s current penal system that has grown to become the eighth largest prison system in the country with 32 prisons.
Debtor’s Prison (Accomack)
Accomack, VA, USA
A rare survivor of penal architecture of the colonial period, this building was constructed in 1782. The small brick structure was originally built as a jailer's residence. In 1824 iron bars, oak batten doors, and locks were added when it was converted into a "gaol" for debtors, a purpose it served until 1849.
Debtor’s Prison (Farmville)
Farmville, VA, USA
This small prison for debtors can still be seen more than 200 years after its construction.
Dry Tortugas, FL, USA
During the American Civil War, Fort Jefferson was used as a Federal-run prison. One notable inmate was Dr. Samuel Mudd, who had been convicted of conspiracy in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. In 1888 the fort was deemed too expensive for military use, and was used as a quarantine station. In 1935 the Dry Tortugas on which the fort rests were named a National Monument and in 1992 they became a National Park.
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Eastern’s massive, medieval façade stands in stark contrast to it’s church-like interior. Opened in 1829, this was the world’s first true “Penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence in the hearts of convicts. The original seven cellblocks spread like spokes on a wheel, and had running water and central heat before the White House. Closed in 1971, an estimated 300 prisons worldwide have been modeled after Eastern State.
Essex County Jail
Newark, NJ, USA
The Old Essex County jail complex is that county’s oldest public building and was completed in 1837. The jail was designed by architect John Haviland, who also designed the revolutionary radial plan at Eastern State Penitentiary. Although the jail was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991, no efforts have been made to preserve it and it is currently abandoned.
Folsom Prison Museum
Sacramento, CA, USA
The Folsom Prison Museum offers a look at torturous prison conditions in decades after the California Gold Rush populated the Sierra Nevada foothills. The museum contains artifacts and records dating back to the 1800s.
Fort Delaware State Park / Pea Patch Island
Delaware City, DE, USA
Fort Delaware is one of Delaware’s first state parks, created in 1951. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Union fortress dates back to 1859, and once served as a prison for Confederate prisoners of war. It was originally built to protect the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia. The State of Delaware acquired the Fort from the Federal Government in 1947.
Fort Selden State Monument
Radium Springs, NM, USA
Fort Selden was a Civil War territorial fort built in 1865 along the Rio Grande River. It was abandoned in 1891 and declared a New Mexico State Monument in 1974. The current site features the ruins of the fort as well as a museum, and the monument holds annual event such as Fort Selden Frontier Days.
Freestone County Museum
Fairfield, TX, USA
The museum houses historical items depicting the history of Freestone County. Along with the fact that it is housed in the 110 year-old jail building, the museum also features 4 historical markers on the grounds and two original log cabins dating back to the mid- 1800's.
Lahaina, Maui, HI, USA
Hale Pa'ahao, "the stuck-in-irons house," was so named because of its standard wall shackles and ball-and-chain restraints. The prison house was built of planks in 1852; it had separate quarters for men and women. A guard patrolled the grounds from a catwalk. Most prisoners were there for deserting ship, drunkenness, working on the Sabbath or reckless horse riding. The prison serves a happier function today. It is frequently rented for community use, and there have been many fine gatherings in the now park-like atmosphere.
Houston Police Museum
Houston, TX, USA
This museum traces the history of the Houston Police force from its beginnings in 1939 through today. There are a wide variety of artifacts, uniforms, and photographs on display from various significant time periods in the force’s history, such as WWII, the first female officer uniform, and the 1950’s.
Huron Historic Gaol
Goderich, Ontario, Canada
Opened in 1842, the Huron County Jail, designed by architect Thomas Young, was considered a model of humanitarian prison design at the time. The building originally housed the County Courts and Council Chambers, as well as serving as Gaol and House of Refuge. This unique and imposing octagonal building served as the Huron County Jail until 1972.
Jackson County Historical Society 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home & Museum
Independence, MO, USA
The two-story 1859 Jackson County Jail, with its barred windows and double iron doors, gives a chilling look at the rigors of frontier justice. The jail held prisoners until1933 when the building began being used for regional relief services during the Depression. It is thought to be the only such building standing in the Midwest today.
Kingston Penitentiary/ Correctional Service of Canada Museum
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Kingston Penitentiary officially opened in June 1835 under the reign of King William IV. British North America's first "penitentiary" was initially called the "Provincial Penitentiary of the Province of Upper Canada," or the "Provincial Penitentiary" for short. Originally designed by American William Powers of Auburn, New York, the institution was heavily influenced by the system that had been established there. Today Kingston Penitentiary continues as a maximum-security institution. The Correctional Service of Canada Museum is located in what was formerly the residence for the warden of Kingston Penitentiary. It houses a collection of artifacts that highlight the chronology of correctional services in Canada.
Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum
Angola, LA, USA
The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is located in West Feliciana Parish, approximately fifty-nine miles northwest of Baton Rouge. Prior to 1835, inmates were housed in a vermin infested jail in New Orleans. In that year the first Louisiana State Penitentiary was built using a plan similar to a prison in Wethersfield, Connecticut. The mission of the Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum Foundation is to support and promote the historical, educational, and cultural role of the Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum.
Maine State Prison
Warren, ME, USA
This operational prison houses more than 900 prisoners, approximately 300 of whom are employed in producing wooden furniture, toys, paintings, clocks, and many other household items. These items can be purchased online or at the prison’s showroom in Thomaston, ME.
Mansfield Reformatory (Ohio State Reformatory)
Mansfield, OH, USA
The old Ohio State Reformatory is now being transformed into a museum and tour facility to increase the cultural, social, and economic life of Mansfield, Ohio.
Manzanar National Historic Site
Independence, CA, USA
Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps at which Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II. Located at the foot of the imposing Sierra Nevada in eastern California's Owens Valley, Manzanar has been identified as the best preserved of these camps.
McCracken 1901 Post Rock City Jail Museum
McCracken, KS, USA
The McCracken Post Rock City Jail was built in 1901 in the small town of McCracken, Kansas. Not only did the building house the jail, but also the town's City Hall and Fire Department. Now, the former City Jail serves as the McCracken Historical Museum.
Missouri State Penitentiary
Jefferson City, MO, USA
Decommissioned in 2004, the Missouri State Penitentiary is now open to the public for hard hat tours. Before it closed, MSP was the oldest continually operating penitentiary west of the Mississippi.
Museum of Colorado Prisons/Territorial Prison
Cañon City, CO, USA
The Territorial Prison in Canon City, Colorado opened on June 13, 1871. Known as one of the "Hell Holes" of the Old West, the institution has witnessed 77 executions and was home to inmates such as Alfred Packer, the only man convicted of cannibalism in the United States and an 11-year-old murderer, Anton Woode. To preserve the Territorial Prison, the Museum of Colorado Prisons opened its doors June 18, 1988.
National Museum of Crime and Punishment
Washington, DC, USA
The National Museum of Crime and Punishment, located in the U.S. capital, Invites visitors to test their Wild West shooting skills, experience the exhilaration of a high-speed chase, conduct forensic investigations, and attempt hacking into a computer in order to get a realistic picture of crime throughout history in America. Visitors can also walk onto the actual set of America’s Most Wanted, a television program that has helped to capture more than 1,000 fugitives through community involvement.
New York City Police Museum
New York, NY, USA
The New York City Police Museum captures the history of the NYPD as well as a present-day look at the world of law enforcement through the eyes of its officers.
New York Correction History Society
Albany, NY, USA
The New York State prison system had its beginnings in 1797 with a single prison (called Newgate after the infamous London jail) located in what is now Greenwich Village. The corrections museum chronicles the fascinating history of New York prisons through a collection of striped prison uniforms, restraint devices and other archives.
Old 1910 Jackson County Jail
Jacksonville, OR, USA
The building that previously served as the Jackson County Jail currently houses the Jacksonville Children’s Museum. Exhibits include “old fashioned toys, walk through exhibits for a pioneer jail, kitchen, and teepee, and a collection of Vance Colvig memorabilia and cartoons.” Colvig was the voice for many Disney characters as well as the first Bozo the Clown, and a Jacksonville native. The adult museum is in a building that formerly served as the Jacksonville Courthouse.
Old County Jail and Museum (CT)
Tolland, CT, USA
The oldest remaining portion of the Old County Jail, the stone portion dating from 1856, was the fourth jail built at that site. The last section was added later in the 19th Century. The jail was operated by the county until 1960, and by the state from 1960 to 1968. Those accused of more serious crimes would be held here until trial, perhaps moving on to the state prisons. They were not allowed out of the cellblock.
Old Fauquier County Jail
Warrenton, VA, USA
The brick jail, constructed in 1808, later turned into the jailer’s residence and the 1823 stone jail that replaced it are located next to the courthouse in this historical complex. The site is a telling picture of conditions endured by inmates.
York, ME, USA
The first Gaol for the Providence of Maine was built in 1656. Although that prison no longer stands, portions of the timber from that structure can still be seen in the colonial Gaol built in 1719 that now houses a museum. Originally accommodating debtors and petty criminals, the Gaol slowly expanded to better suit the growing humanitarian concerns about conditions for the inmates, as well as to house the increasing criminal population. The prison later served as a schoolhouse and warehouse before being opened in1900 as a “museum of colonial relics.” Visitors to the museum can see restored rooms and learn a host of information about the early American prison.
Old Idaho Penitentiary
Boise, ID, USA
Idaho Territory was less than ten years old when the territorial prison was built east of Boise in 1870. The penitentiary grew from a single cellhouse into a complex of several distinctive buildings surrounded by a high sandstone wall. Convicts quarried the stone from the nearby ridges and completed all the later construction. After over a century of use and several riots, the inmate population was moved to a modern penitentiary south of Boise and the Old Idaho Penitentiary was closed on December 3, 1973.
Old Jail Art Center
Albany, TX, USA
Opened in 1878, the jail, which was designed and built by the civil architect John Thomas of Thomas and Woerner, Builders, Fort Worth. The jail cost more than $9000, outraging the local taxpayers. Considered very modern at the time of its construction, the jail was used for more than half a century until it was abandoned in 1929.
Old Jail Museum (FL)
St. Augustine, FL, USA
At St. Augustine's Old Jail the sheriff, Joe Perry and his wife Lou, lived and worked for $2.00 a day. Visitors hear of actual crimes and punishments that were a part of life for prisoners who lived in these tiny cells. St. Augustine's Old Jail Tour includes quarters for female prisoners, male prisoners, maximum security, solitary confinement, the kitchen, and living area for the sheriff and his family.
Old Jail Museum (IN)
Montgomery County, IN, USA
Completed in 1882, the Rotary Jail of Montgomery County was designed by William H. Brown and Benjamin F. Haugh of Indianapolis, and was the first rotary jail built in the United States. The rotary cellblock consists of a two-tiered turntable housed within a stationary steel cage with one opening per story. The jailer would simply rotate the mechanism to bring a particular cell to the opening, and in this way prisoners were put into and taken out of the cells. The turntable remained in operation until 1939 when it was immobilized, and the jail was finally closed in 1973.
Old Jail Museum (MI)
Allegan, MI, USA
Operated by The Allegan County Historical Society, the Old Jail Museum features period rooms furnished from the county through generous gifts from many present & former residents.
The Old Jail Museum (PA)
Jim Thorpe, PA, USA
Built in 1871, The Old Jail Museum was the county jail until 1995 and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Visitors can view the gallows on which seven accused Molly Maguires were hanged in the 1800s and the mysterious handprint on the cell wall believed to be left by a Molly Maguire proclaiming his innocence before hanging.
Old Lincoln County Jail and Museum
Wiscasset, ME, USA
The first Lincoln County jail was authorized by the Court of General Sessions of the Peace as the first item of business at its first meeting on May 12, 1761. The jail was completed in September in that year. A plan for a second Lincoln County Jail was approved and built in 1795. Escapes and overcrowding led to the abandonment of this facility after only 16 years of use. The cornerstone for a new jail was laid on August 1, 1809. Prisoners were transferred by mid-1811. The new Lincoln County Jail would serve the County for 102 years when overcrowding conditions necessitated until its final abandonment in 1953.
Old Log Jail Museum
Greenfield, IN, USA
This unique wooden jail was built to provide a secure prison without the use of iron in 1853. The site also contains a chapel and an old doctor’s office.
Old Monterey Jail
Monterey, CA, USA
The Old Jail, located next to Colton Hall, was constructed in 1854 and served as the City Jail until 1956. The jail was an impenetrable fortress for its inmates; no one ever escaped from the thick granite walls during its history.
Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine
East Granby, CT, USA
Mining operations began at the Old New-Gate location in 1707. However, mining was not profitable, and in 1773 the Colony of Connecticut purchased the caverns and made them into a prison. It was used to house prisoners during the American Revolution, and in 1790 became the state prison. Old New-Gate was closed in 1827.
Old Prison Museum
Deer Lodge, MT, USA
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Old Montana Prison was built by inmate labor. This turn-of-the-century fortress was home to at least one member of Butch Cassidy's "Wild Bunch." Guided and self-guided tours lead visitors through the intimidating Cell House and into the chilling slide bar cells and black box of Maximum Security.
Old Prison of Trois-Rivières
Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada
Designed by architect François Baillargé, and opened in 1822, the Trois-Rivières was meant to house around forty inmates, but was sometimes packed with more than a hundred. Before closing in 1986, Trois-Rivières’ Old Prison was the oldest functional corrections establishment in Canada and is now a historic monument.
Old Stone Jail Museum (VA)
Goochland, VA, USA
The Old Stone Jail was built in 1833 when the James River & Kanawaha Canal was being built westward along the James River. River stones were brought up the hill to the site and were used in the construction of the jail.
Old Stone Jail Museum
Palmyra, VA, USA
Old Stone Jail Museum was built in 1828. In 1963 the gaol was opened as the museum for the permanent collection of Fluvanna historical artifacts.
Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum
Cripple Creek, CO, USA
Located in the building that served as the Teller County Jail for almost 90 years, this museum tells the story of those men who protected a Colorado gold rush town from the outlaws of the west.
Palo Pinto Old Jail Museum
Mineral Wells, TX, USA
This site features the old jail and a log cabin located near the courthouse.
Porter County Jail
Valparaiso, IN, USA
This museum boasts a wealth of reference documents, including newspapers from the 1800s, court documents and early photographs. Cells also hold artifacts and antique tools.
Williamsburg, VA, USA
Built in 1701, this historical brick prison once housed 15 associates of the famous pirate Blackbeard. It also served as a place to house runaway slaves, debtors, spies, deserters, Tories, and traitors during the Revolutionary War. Located in Colonial Williamsburg, today the Gaol is restored to its 1722 appearance.
San Juan County Historical Society Museum
Silverton, CO, USA
Built in 1902 and opened as a museum in 1965, Silverton's Historical Society Museum is located in the old San Juan County jail. The old jail cells are still on view upstairs for visitors.
San Juan Historical Museum
Friday Harbor, WA, USA
The purpose of the San Juan Historical Society and its museum is to share and interpret the story of the people of San Juan Island. The jail was brought to the museum grounds in the 1980's.
San Quentin Prison Museum
San Quentin, CA, USA
California established a State Prison system in 1851 in response to increased criminal activity brought on by the sudden influx of men seeking their fortune in the gold fields. As it quickly became overcrowded and escapes common, building began for a permanent facility on Pt. San Quentin in 1852.
Schuyler County Historical Jail Museum
Rushville, IL, USA
This historic jail was built in 1857 from stone. Today it houses a museum where visitors can view period clothing and uniforms, medical implements and more.
Sing Sing Prison Museum
Ossining, NY, USA
While Eastern State Penitentiary was the model for the Pennsylvania System of imprisonment, which advocated solitary confinement to lead the convict to penitence, Sing Sing prison, its ideological rival, advocated the Auburn system that instituted hard labor during the day with separate cells for prisoners at night. The Sing Sing Prison Museum boasts a host of historical facts about the prison, as well as a facsimile of an electric chair and real weapons confiscated from prisoners.
Squirrel Cage Jail
Council Bluffs, IA, USA
One of three remaining examples of the "Lazy Susan" jails, this three-story brick structure was completed in 1885 and featured a "cage" that rotated to allow jailers a view of all cells from a single vantage point. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Texas Prison Museum
Huntsville, TX, USA
The Texas Prison Museum offers an intriguing glimpse into the lives of the state's least-loved citizens. The museum features numerous exhibits detailing the history of the Texas prison system, both from the point of view of the inmates as well as the men and women who worked within the prison walls.
Wayne County Historical Society Old Jail Museum
Lyons, NY, USA
The Wayne County Old Jail Museum is housed in what was once the Wayne County Jail. From 1854 through 1960, the twenty-four 9' x 4'x7' cells of the jail held the infamous, like convicted murderer William Fee (the only person ever to be executed in the Wayne County Jail) and notorious train robber Oliver Curtis Perry.
West Virginia Penitentiary
Moundsville, WV, USA
The prison at Joliet provided the prototype for the West Virginia Penitentiary. It was an imposing stone structure fashioned in the Gothic architectural style. Only the dimensions of West Virginia's facility would differ; it would be approximately one-half the size of Joliet. The first phase of the West Virginia Penitentiary was completed in 1876 at a total cost of $363,061. After 110 years of use, the West Virginia Supreme Court handed down the decision that the penitentiary was to be closed by July 1992. The prison was closed in 1995 in favor of a modern facility, the Mt. Olive Correctional Center in Fayette County.
Wyoming Frontier Prison
Rawlins, WY, USA
While outlaws roamed the windswept high plains, canyons and mountains of post Civil War Wyoming, the territorial legislature was planning a state-of-the-art penitentiary at Rawlins in anticipation of statehood. This new Wyoming State Penitentiary, which would serve from 1901 until 1981 would send a strong message to freewheeling desperadoes... Wyoming would no longer be a haven for the lawless!
Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site
Laramie, WY, USA
The cornerstone of the Wyoming Territorial Park is the restored Wyoming Territorial Prison. Built in 1872, it was used as a federal and state penal facility until 1903. The Prison housed the likes of Butch Cassidy and other notorious outlaws of Wyoming territory's wild days.
Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park
Yuma, AZ, USA
Yuma Territorial Prison is a living museum of the Old West. More than 3,000 desperadoes, convicted of crimes ranging from polygamy to murder, were imprisoned in rock and adobe cells here during the prison's 33-year existence between 1876 and 1909. The cells, main gate and guard tower are still standing, providing visitors with a glimpse of convict life in the Southwest a century ago.
Ushuaia National Prison
Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Ushuaia is the southernmost prison in the world on Argentina's side of the Tierra del Fuego. It opened in 1896 designed to accommodate 386 prisoners, but by 1913 occupancy was up to 1,000 inmates crammed four to a cell. Today the Train to the End of the World offers daily steam-driven excursions in replicas of English passenger wagons. Closed since 1947, the Presidio and the Maritime Museum of Ushuaia are located on the grounds of an Argentine naval base.