Old prisons are high on the list of ghost hunter’s favorite places to investigate. There are several popular theories as to why such places are reportedly haunted; such as extreme emotions leaving energy imprints on the environment, or spirits afraid to move on because they feel a worse destination awaits, or because prisoners had unfinished business and stayed behind.
Whether spirits actually reside in prisons is debatable. But there’s no question that walking into a huge, old structure that was created to break people’s spirits and force conformity, is a haunting experience. Many prisons built in the 1800s and early 1900s used methods that, even then, were viewed as barbaric.
The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio is a classic example of a prison built in the late 1800s. And yet, spending a dark evening in a cellblock with rows of cages stacked on top of each other in seemingly endless rows, is a genuinely unique experience.
Unlike the prisoners, guests can investigate, and then are free to leave. The Ohio State Reformatory offers several options for ghost tours, and prices start in a very affordable range. The most popular option is the over-night ghost hunt for ages 21 and over. Admission is $65 per person, which includes access to the building from 8:00pm until 5:00am and a late dinner of pizza and beverages.
These ghost hunts are sold out at 100 people, and guests are free to wander wherever they like in the many unrestricted zones throughout the evening. The prison is huge, so 100 people can actually spread out quite a bit, but there is no way to guarantee any privacy for investigating. At any point in time you could be interrupted, hopefully by someone who passed away many years ago.
All the information is on the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society’s website under the “Ghost Events” tab, including their calendar of available dates.
Chassidy Jamnick, an Investigator with Motor City Ghost Hunters in Detroit, Michigan points out “you have to be at the right place at the right time and hope that history repeats itself. There were so many prisoners that were in there, and what took place behind closed doors is a mystery.” She says she doesn’t mind spending money on a ghost hunt at Mansfield because “if you get evidence, it's worth the fee”.
Because of the possibility of guest’s voices carrying and contaminating audio recordings, Mansfield is better suited to cameras that record visual phenomenon. But no matter how you investigate, make time to sit quietly in solitary confinement for a while, in a small cell, alone in the endless darkness and imagine just for a moment how a prisoner’s energy could seep right out of them into the very foundation of this place of penance and suffering.
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