Dark past of 'haunted' super max prison made famous by The Shawshank Redemption

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It was built to be a beacon of hope, standing proud on the Ohio skyline like an imposing and grand castle.

But just a few years after it opened its doors for the first time, the bright hopes how the building could change lives for the better were shattered.

And what was left was marred with an increasingly dark and violent history.

The Ohio State Reformatory was intended to house first-time young offenders with the sole aim of rehabiliting them back into society through education and patience.

Work on the building started in 1886 but it soon ran into funding problems and when it accepted its first young inmates 10 years later construction was still being carried out.

It had been hoped the jail could be a force for good

Its imposing structure made it look like a castle

 

Many of the young prisoners were involved in the work, including building the sewers.

By the time the building was finally finished in 1910 the prison’s progressive agenda had been replaced with a far more brutal approach.

More and more of the prisoners being locked up in the reformatory were now adults, who had to be kept separate from the juvenile inmates.

And with crime increasing across the whole of the US, eventually the young people had to be removed from the jail

Some of America’s most dangerous prisoners were now locked up in the reformatory.

The rows of cells stood at six tiers high

The prison was saved by the hit film The Shawshank Redemption

 

The cell blocks stood at six tiers high and violence was part of every day life inside the jail.

Murders and death were common and one inmate was brutally killed and then stuffed in a mattress with his body lying undiscovered for 30 days.

But the darkest and most deadly part of the prison was the solitary confinement celss.

Tiny, dank and pitch black, prisoners could be forced to spend all their time in darkness or without the lights ever being switched off.

Guards messed with meal times so those in solitary had no clue what time of day it was.

The prison is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the inmates who died in there

The prison looks more like a castile than a jail

 

Despite being one of the most feared prisons in America, the Ohio Reformatory accepted inmates until 1990.

It only closed when prisoners brought a class action , citing overcrowding and inhumane conditions.

A federal court order brought to an end the terror and horror inside the walls of the jail.

But during its time more than 150,000 inmates had slept behind its walls, with 200 of them dying inside the jail.

And with so many deaths surrounded by such misery, it’s no surprise that the prison is said to be haunted.

It has now become a mecca for ghost hunters.

Following its closure, the prison was about to be demolished when the Hollywood power players behind sleeper hit, The Shawshank Redemption, asked to film almost all of the movie inside the jail.

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On the day the bulldozers should have moved in to pull down the prison, and erase its dark past, film crews arrived instead.

The prison is now open as a tourist attraction and will feature in Yesterday’s Abandoned Engineering.

Other strange and derelict structures in this week’s episode include Nazi mega structures on the island of Guernsey, an island off the ghost of Finland where compasses don’t work and weapons testing site in Suffolk.

  • Abandoned Engineering is on Yesterday on Thursday at 8pm.



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