Haunting Ghost Stories From U.S. Prisons

Men Buried Alive...

Opened Cell Door at Alcatraz
Giorgio Fochesato / Getty Images

Many prisons built in the 1800s and early 1900s were massive foreboding structures which offered only the most basic needs to the inmates they housed. The antiquated concept of reform was designed to break the spirits and force conformity. The methods used were viewed even then as being cruel and barbaric.

Many who study paranormal activity believe these prisons, each with its own history of immense pain and suffering, attract spirits who are caught between worlds. They believe some of these spirits were too evil to move on, others have old scores to settle and some wander the prison's cell blocks looking for the way out.

Alcatraz: Strangeness in Dark Corridors

Years after "The Rock" was closed as a prison, stories persist that Alcatraz is haunted. Ghost hunters have said they feel parts of the island and areas of the prison evoke a certain "strangeness," but it was mostly employees, working in areas of the prison alone, who have reported most of the unexplained events that haunt the dark corridors of Alcatraz. Reports of areas that are suddenly cold, unexplained clanging sounds, sobbing coming from empty corridors and reports of Al Capone playing his banjo in the shower room.

The Tortured Souls of Eastern State Penitentiary

Charles Dickens visited the prison in the 1840s and found the conditions appalling. He described the inmates at Eastern Penn as being "buried alive..." and wrote about the psychological torture the inmates suffered at the hands of their captors. Today, many claim to have met some of those tortured souls, while walking through the deserted halls of Eastern State Penitentiary. From weeping, giggling, whispering and paralyzing forces, this penitentiary keeps paranormal investigators busy.

The Ghost Stories of Mansfiled Reformatory

Also known as the Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield Reformatory is believed to hold the spirits of many of its worst criminals, some of them being the prison employees, locked away forever. Since its closure, rumors of the spirits of tortured inmates who died in the prison fill the halls with restless energy, unable to escape the prison's bars. Guilty guards and tales or brutal prison officials also contribute to the stories of the haunted facility, as they remained trapped in the gruesome nightmare they created for the prisoners locked inside. The ghosts are Mansfield do not seem shy however, since many a visitor photographing the old prison has manage to capture images of orbs in their photographs.

West Virginia Penitentiary: Suicide, Violence and Murder

In the late 1800s, Moundsville took over all executions for the state. But the executions were only a small part of the violent past at Moundsville. Suicide, murder and torturous and violent punishments contributed to the death of hundreds of inmates. Today, some visitors and employees claim to see evidence that many spirits still inhabit the old penitentiary. Paranormal experts say the prison experiences residual haunting, which they describe as tragic events from the past that are repetitively replayed forever. The penitentiary also seems unable to keep prisoners from coming in, although they are only heard and never seen, as they push the circular entrance gate that guides them inside the prison walls.

Alcatraz Federal Prison Photo Gallery

See the prison built by prisoners, that was later called "The Rock" and walk down the main prison corridor nicknamed "Broadway." Check out the dummy heads made by three convicts that escaped in 1962.