Prisoners have been incarcerated and executed in prisons throughout history, and many of these facilities are believed to be haunted by the ghosts of those who suffered within their walls.
The brutal treatment of prisoners and the traumatic experiences they endured have left a lasting imprint on these historic buildings.
In this article, we will explore some of the most haunted prisons in the world, delving into the stories behind these notorious facilities and the ghosts that continue to linger within them.
Most Haunted Prisons in the World
Shepton Mallet Prison, England
Shepton Mallet Prison, located in Somerset, England, has a chilling history dating back to the 17th century.
Prisoners were often kept in complete isolation, particularly during the 1800s. The reformation of the prisons in Victorian Britain saw the separate system introduced at several prisons, including the foreboding Lincoln Castle.
With numerous reports of ghostly apparitions, it’s no wonder this prison has earned a reputation as the world’s most haunted prison. In the 1970s, several prison officers refused to work the night shift, having seen the white lady.
The ghost of an American soldier who was executed for a brutal rape and murder has also been seen. His malevolent spirit is believed to have inflicted physical injuries on a tour guide. A hooded lady has also been seen walking in the courtyard at night.
Address: Frithfield Ln, Shepton Mallet BA4 5FQ
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, USA
Located in San Francisco, California, the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is famous not just for its ghost stories but also for being an almost inescapable prison. Its isolated location on an island made it the perfect place to hold dangerous criminals.
The prison housed infamous inmates such as Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. After being closed down, the abandoned prison quickly became known for its eerie atmosphere and reported paranormal activity, including sightings of ghostly figures and unexplainable noises.
Address: Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay, California
Eastern State Penitentiary, USA
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia boasts a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. Known for its pioneering design of isolated cells, the prison aimed to reform inmates through solitary confinement.
After closing in 1971, the prison began gaining popularity as one of America’s most haunted places. A ghostly male figure has been spotted in the guard tower, and a female spirit has been seen on the second floor. Strange sounds, disembodied voices, and heavy footsteps are all heard regularly in this oppressive, decaying structure.
Address: 2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130, United States
HM Pentridge Prison, Australia
The notorious HM Pentridge Prison in Australia has a dark and horrific past. The prison, which opened in 1850, housed some of Australia’s most dangerous criminals. Its infamous H Division became known for brutal punishments and extreme conditions, which led to riots and even deaths.
After the prison’s closure in 1997, reports of ghostly voices, figures, and unsettling experiences have emerged, making it one of the most haunted prisons in the world.
Address: Champ Street, Coburg, Moreland, Victoria 3058, Australia
Kilmainham Gaol, Ireland
Kilmainham Gaol, located in Dublin, Ireland, played a significant role during the Irish struggle for independence. Many leaders of the rebellions were imprisoned and executed within the Gaol’s walls.
Reports of paranormal activity at Kilmainham Gaol range from eerie feelings to sightings of apparitions and strange sounds. Some people claim to have seen the spirits of former prisoners or guards, felt cold spots, seen moving shadows, or heard unexplained noises.
One story often told is of the ghost of a young boy named Patrick, who was allegedly imprisoned in the Gaol in the 19th century for petty theft. Some visitors claim to have seen his apparition wandering the prison or heard his voice.
Another story relates to the leader of the 1916 Easter Rising, Joseph Plunkett, executed at Kilmainham. Some visitors have reported feeling a sense of sadness or despair in the cell where he spent his last night or even seeing his apparition.
Address: Inchicore Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 RK28, Ireland
Shrewsbury Prison, England
The historic Shrewsbury Prison in Shropshire, England claims to be the second most haunted jail in the world.
C-wing is alleged to be the most haunted part of the jail, which is also known as the Dana. The female wing is haunted by a ‘Grey Lady’ who walks the landings at night and a little Georgian girl.
Cell doors slam, footsteps pace the landings, and a fleeting shadow figure is often seen on A-Wing. A former governor’s wife also haunts the Governor’s office.
Address: The Dana, Shrewsbury SY1 2HP
Ohio State Reformatory, USA
Ohio State Reformatory, situated in Mansfield, Ohio, is another prison steeped in history and hauntings.
The prison, which operated from 1896 to 1990, housed young offenders and gained notoriety for its brutal conditions.
After its closure, the abandoned prison attracted paranormal investigators due to its chilling atmosphere and numerous ghost sightings.
Address: 100 Reformatory Rd, Mansfield, OH 44905, United States
Galleries of Justice, England
Located in Nottingham, England, the Galleries of Justice served as a courthouse and prison from the 14th century to the late 20th century.
With a history of torture, punishment, and execution, the site has become known for its paranormal occurrences and is one of the most haunted prisons in the world.
Ghostly figures are seen in the courtroom, unexplained noises emanate from the cells, and poltergeist activity is regularly reported in the medieval dungeon caves below the building.
Address: National Justice Museum, High Pavement, Nottingham NG1 1HN
Bodmin Jail, located in Cornwall, was constructed in 1779 by prisoners of war. It became the first British prison to hold inmates in individual cells as part of prison reform.
Fifty-five executions occurred at Bodmin Jail, the last of which occurred in 1909.
The most famous ghost said to haunt Bodmin Jail is that of Selina Wadge, a woman who was convicted and hanged for the murder of her son in the late 19th century.
Her spirit is often reported, with visitors claiming to feel a deep sadness and despair in the areas she is said to frequent.
Address: Bodmin Jail, Berrycoombe Rd, Bodmin PL31 2NR