It’s no wonder the Eastern State Penitentiary has a reputation for being haunted , the punishments and conditions of the prison were cruel and unusual. In this article, we will continue highlighting the severe punishments, poor conditions and evidence of a possible haunting at the Eastern State Penitentiary.
Nearly every prison had some sort of ‘hole’ that they sent unruly inmate to. At Eastern State Penitentiary, you would be sent to the pit dug into the ground under Block #14. Inmates sent there would stay locked in the hole for up to weeks at a time. They had no light and very little air. Surrounded by rats and roaches, the prisoner would have to survive with some water and a slice of bread.
The Quakers did not see to the punishments of the inmates, but it was the hired staff at the prison who were responsible for making sure the extreme measures were followed.
The condition of the Eastern State Penitentiary was horrific. Before reform took place in 1913, more than 1,700 inmates were stuffed into small makeshift cells that were designed to house 250 inmates. These conditions reduced the amount of light and ventilation. One time, the author Charles Dickens paid a visit to the prison in the 1840s and called the conditions ‘appalling.’ He wrote about the psychological torture the inmates endured during their stay at the prison. Finally, the prison was deemed unacceptable and it was taken over and reformed. The Pennsylvania System was abolished in the process. In 1971, the prison was shut down for good.
Eastern State Penitentiary Hauntings
Since the closing of the penitentiary, employees and people interested in researching the paranormal activity have documented unexplainable happenings taken place, including strange sounds and other occurrences. One of the major tales involving Eastern State Penitentiary happened to a locksmith that was conducting restoration work in Cell Block #4. He says that when he was starting to remove a 140-year-old lock from the cell door, he was greeted by a strong force that made it difficult for him to move. Some believe that when he removed the key that a gateway to spirits trapped in the past was let loose.
The locksmith described having an out-of-body experience where he felt attracted toward the negative energy that surrounded him in the cell. He spoke of distressed faces that appeared on the cell wall that projected hundreds of distorted forms that moved about the cellblock. One form was more dominant than the others and seemed to call to the locksmith. He said that the experience was so intense that he still felt fear to speak of the occurrence.
Today, the penitentiary is open to the public. In an average year, about two dozen paranormal investigations are conducted in the cell blocks. Almost every time, evidence of activity is detected. Visitors and employees have reported hearing odd sounds and noises, such as unexplainable giggling, weeping and whispering that have come from inside the prison walls.