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Haunted Houses (attractions)

Prison historic site takes hard look at mass incarceration

An old penitentiary-turned-historic-site that becomes a haunted house attraction each Halloween and provides a look back on a bygone era of corrections is taking a new direction with a hard look at today's prisons and America's high rate of incarceration.

Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829 with the belief that criminals could redeem themselves, and it was cruel to crowd or mistreat them. The only light came from the skylight in the vaulted ceiling, sending the message that only the light of God and hard work could lead to reform.

By the 1930s, space meant to house 300 inmates instead held 2,000. By 1970, the year Eastern State closed, punishment was its...

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