12 Arresting Prison Ghost Stories To Keep You Shackled With Fear

Prisons are always creepy, but haunted prisons are creepy on steroids. These are a few prisons where even the sweet release of death was not enough to free some of the inmates. A sentence of life in prison just wasn't sufficient for these criminals.

These locations have colorful histories, to say the least. Many are more than 100 years old, and in their time there has been death and despair beyond what most people ever experience inside their walls. Whether it be by execution or old-fashioned prison stabbing, many have perished and their spirits remain.

Many of these locations have well documented paranormal encounters. Shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures have chronicled the ghosts haunting these jails and prisons around America. Ghosts haunting jails are mysterious, spooky, and capture the imagination of people worldwide. 


  • Al Capone's Ghost Haunts Alcatraz Prison
    Photo: Dusty J / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    There are many reports of ghosts walking the halls of The Rock. Built on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, the famous prison was initially a fort constructed in the 1850s. The fort had a military prison which operated until the island was converted to a federal penitentiary in 1934. From then until it closed in 1963, it housed some of the most notorious and dangerous federal criminals of the era.

    One of those criminals, Al Capone, is said to still reside there. During his time in the prison, he learned to play the banjo. Because he was afraid he would be killed if he went in out in the yard with the other inmates, he negotiated with the guards to allow him to spend his recreation time in the showers. After Capone died, many reported hearing banjo music coming from the bathroom.

    Another locus of haunting is Cell 14-D. One night a prisoner was heard screaming all night about a creature trying to kill him. In the morning the man was found strangled to death. People say the cell is constantly freezing cold - even in the dead of summer - a red eyes are seen glowing from inside it. 

  • Dark History Of Missouri State Penitentiary Comes Back To Haunt

    Dark History Of Missouri State Penitentiary Comes Back To Haunt
    Photo: smays / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    In 1836, Missouri State Penitentiary was opened in Jefferson City. At the time it closed in 2004 it was the oldest continually operating prison in the country.

    In 1967 it was named "the bloodiest 47 acres in America" by Time magazine because of its brutal past. Well over 100 organized paranormal investigations have taken place at the prison. One of the most haunted locations in the prison is A-Hall, the oldest part of the prison, and The Hole, a solitary confinement chamber. 

    The most infamous ghost that haunts the prison is located in Cell 48. Here a prison snitch was murdered during a prison riot, bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer used to open a hole in the wall to the cell. A strange figure has been photographed standing at the cell.

  • Almost 1,000 People Died At The West Virginia State Penitentiary

    The West Virginia State Penitentiary, located in Moundsville, was first built in 1863. During the prison's operation, there were 36 homicides, 86 hangings, and many more electrocutions and suicides. In total, 998 people died on the grounds.

    One ghost said to haunt the halls is R.D. Wall. On October 8, 1929, Wall was going down to the basement where the boilers were located when he was murdered because he was a snitch. He wasn't just killed, though, he was butchered with dull shivs by three other inmates. Ghost Adventures recorded evidence of this haunting during their investigation.

  • Ghosts From Ohio State Reformatory Riot Are Still Fighting
    Photo: Griff69 / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Opened in 1896, Ohio State Reformatory housed 155,000 inmates before it closed in 1990. It was created to reform those not deemed hardened enough for the Ohio Penitentiary. Over the years, however, prison overcrowding caused hardened criminals to be housed there anyway.

    The 20 solitary confinement cells known as The Hole are one locus of haunting activity. In the 1930s, a riot resulted in 120 inmates being forced to share 12 of these no longer solitary cells. Another is the administrative wing where Warden Glattke and his wife Helen lived. In 1950, Helen accidentally knocked a gun off a shelf causing it to discharge. She was hit in the chest and died three days later. The chapel, infirmary, basement, and other areas have also witnessed significant paranormal activity.