On Sunday morning I got up at 4:30am and met Barb to go up to the Maryland House of Corrections for the final public tour before it's demolished. It was opened in 1879 and was supposed to be a 'relief valve' for the Baltimore Prison, to take in non-violent offenders. But as in the case of many other prisons it soon held more than it was supposed to, including hard core prisoners and ultimately the increasing violence escalating into a string of murders and stabbings amongst the inmates and officers lead to its closure in 2007. The website contains a wealth of interesting information, click here.
We got there early, sat and listened to our briefing, then were led around the premises. We were only allowed in a few areas, the waiting area, the visiting area, the dining room, cell blocks, a dormitory and the central hall.
The guides were also happy to share their tales and experiences and never stopped answering questions. There was no charge for the tour and no donations were requested. I was more than happy with this rare chance to visit the prison.
The prison was built brick by brick by prisoners and will be demolished in the same manner, giving inmates an opportunity to learn new skills for a future life and to also allow the materials salvaged to be used in new projects. An admirable end to an institution with so much history.
Click here for a newspaper report featuring the last warden of the prison, Gary Hornbaker.
Another self portrait
1 week ago