10.29.2012

scarier than Halloween will ever be


Recommended Reading:

The recent Mother Jones cover story by Shane Bauer: "No Way Out"
 article on solitary confinement

 On Saturday, I went with friends to "Terror Behind the Walls," a longstanding annual haunted house at the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary here in Philadelphia. As we stood in line, we had a discussion about whether or not we would be scared, about how fear might set in. We contemplated temporary, seasonal employees with stage make-up facial wounds and how they might lunge from a corner in the dark, and I tried to keep myself from thinking too much. I figured I could handle a "zombie" whispering in my ear, but I wasn't sure I could silence the raw irony of the location; the event itself.

Thousands of people paying $40-$100+ each to walk through a world changing model prison that operated for 140 years and have themselves "scared" in the name of fun.



I've been aware of, and tangentially and directly related to, "prison work" for years now. There are many dedicated, compassionate people who are trying and fighting (from many angles) to combat the current state of incarceration in the U.S. For anyone, surely, the sheer statistics must be frightening.

The number of people incarcerated in the U.S. is staggering: 6 million people are under correctional supervision.

Then compare that to the number from ANY other country in the world: 5% of the world's population, 25% of the world's prisoners

Disproportionate is the all too generous word.


Yes, the tour was scary, and no, I couldn't keep from thinking too much. This is our history. This is what people do to other people--and it is growing, and people are profiting.

I love Halloween. There is something enjoyable about being fake scared. For one, I would much rather be fake scared.


history of solitary confinement

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