OLD IDAHO PENITENTIARY
2445 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise, 334-2844
From its opening as the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary in 1872 to its closing as an active prison in 1973, no one wanted to be near the Old Idaho Penitentiary. Now its an extremely interesting place to check out.
Inside the walls is a foreign world. The cramped quarters where inmates lived in each cell house tweaks your perception of reality. It fees like the higher the security, the darker the cells especially in dismal solitary confinement known as Siberia, where only slivers of light enter.
All the concrete and metal bars in each house enclose visitors in a cold, strange feeling. The gates separating the house entrance from the cells force you to lower your head as you pass through the threshold, almost demanding a humbled, sullen state of mind even before seeing prisoners quarters. Each cell is unique, flavored by the souls once enclosed inside. On death row, a calendar never appeared so ominous. You can almost hear the inmate in Siberia snicker when he wrote, I was here, and you were gone. Now you are here, and I am gone!
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