Such A Deal: You Can Go To Prison, AND…Get Out The Same Day.

Most of us are of the inclination to basically avoid going to prison. It’s not like it would be on the top of our list of places to live, or for that matter, visit. Any criminal who has spent time in one might vouch for that.

However, things are a changin’. Now prisons have become the hottest place to put on your vacation itinerary. Providing of course that you haven’t committed a crime and are there already.


Only if it’s on Blu Ray

In Jefferson City, Missouri, according to the “Reuters News Service” tourists are flocking to the deserted Missouri State Penitentiary to get a glimpse of how wonderful life was behind bars.

Yep, you get to see the place where assaults, murders and gas chamber executions took place. None of that namby pamby stuff you get when you visit Disneyland. And no stinkin’ mouse ears. Just REAL mice.

The Missouri penitentiary has had more than 19,000 visitors last year and that’s up ten percent from the previous year. And no hardened criminals were included in that count.


Except for hardened criminal Thelma Gresnik who murdered an innocent mouse

It only costs you $12 dollars for a two-hour tour and $25 dollars for a three-hour tour which includes additional areas of the compound and a chance to try out the electric chair.

Not really, but for $25 bucks it might be worth considering.

“OK ya damn screw. Go ahead, turn on the voltage to this chair. I want my damn $25 bucks worth. Do ya hear me copper!!!!”

Other prisons besides the one in Missouri are also getting into the act. Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania has a nighttime haunted house which draws about 160,000 people. In Idaho, the old penitentiary there drew about 42,000 visitors.

So many visitors that the cons had to be released to make room for the tourists. Um…only kidding, but when ya think about it, that might be a lucrative option for many penitentiaries considering prisoners are supported by the state and taxpayers. So, why not just let them go because those slugs don’t pay a single dime to live there and just go ahead and make a gazillion dollars off of tourists.


One of the main reasons there were not a lot of successful escapes from Alcatraz

“So Bruno. What ya in for?”

“I’m doin’ 20 years to life for moider.”

“Geez….you’re never gonna get outta here?”

“Oh yeah. Well I got news for you pal. I just rented my cell out to a bunch of tourists from Oshkosh, Wisconsin and me and da warden are gonna split the rent money. I’m a free man tanks to tourism. Ain’t capitalism wonderful.”

Even that notorious prison Alcatraz off the shore of San Francisco is raking in the tourist dollars. 1.4 to 1.5 visitors annually. Too bad it wasn’t open for tourists when the “Birdman of Alcatraz” was there. Damn, he cold have made a fortune selling bird trinkets and stuff.


The relatively unknown “Mouseman of Alcatraz.”

Even some of the tour guides are former prison guards. Known as screws. (prison lingo)

The former guards waste no time in calling attention to the brutal history of the place. As in former guard Bill Green, 65, who welcomes people to the Missouri prison by saying, “Welcome to the bloodiest 47 acres in North America. Men died within these walls by the hundreds…and not the low hundreds.”

“Geez Mr. Green. Why was it so bloody?”

“Ah that’s just the way them hardened criminals liked their raw meat…bloody. Drove the prison chef nuts.”


No one was spared prison time in Missouri

Time Magazine in the mid-1960’s dubbed the prison the “bloodiest 47 acres” because of the number of inmates who killed or assaulted each other. Which was a favorite pastime of inmates, having no board games like Monopoly or Cribbage to amuse themselves.

Famous inmates at the Missouri penitentiary included gangster, Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd.  ( I personally don’t think he was THAT pretty, but I’d never say it to his face)


This is either N.Y. Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain or Pretty Boy Floyd. Either way….I don’t think either one of them is pretty.

Heavyweight champ Sonny Liston, who learned how to box while incarcerated. Like he REALLY needed to brush up on that.

“Hey Tiny, comon’ over here and let me use you for a punchin’ bag ya little twerp.”

James Earl Ray, who escaped in a bakery truck from the prison in 1967 and later on assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. also did time at the prison.

“Hey, I wasn’t tryin’ to escape damn it. I just wanted a freakin’ jelly donut for cripes sake!”


Ray also served additional time for doing in that jelly donut

The best part of these prison tours is viewing the gas chamber. Green says that capital offenders suffered a “terrible death” by cyanide gas. “You just don’t fall asleep. The cyanide rips out your sinuses, it tears out your esophagus.” Even worse than being in a cell with a guy that farts constantly.

Tourists can actually go inside the gas chamber and sit on the steel chair where prisoners were executed. Go figure.

Can you imagine a prisoner being executed years ago sitting in that very same chair thinking to himself, “Geez, 20 to 30 years from now some dork is gonna be paying $20 bucks to sit in this chair. Heh heh…I got to sit it in for free!”


Honest to goodness actual Missouri State Penitentiary gas chamber

The goal of most prison tours is not solely to shock people but to show how the penal system has changed over the years. You know, flowers, decorative furnishings, a plant or two. Prisoners also performed tasks such as making clothing, school furniture, license plates and the occasional shiv. Which obviously comes in handy on the outside when you’re released.

These tours are kind of frightening according to one tourist, Jim Rhiver, (no relation to Joan or Johnny) who said, “You can see how some people, (criminals) went in there for a very short time and still came out hardened. It was a terrible place to be.”

Ya think?


Made them less hardened too

So, if you’re looking for an unusual way to spend your Fall vacation, and possibly get a taste of how enjoyable prison life can actually be, this might just be the kind of tour you’re looking for.

Or, if you wanna save a few bucks on transportation, admission, food, etc, just go out and pull a bank job and EVERYTHING will automatically be free.  Can’t beat a deal like that.

Just sayin.’

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Copyright 2013 MisfitWisdom RLV


About misfit120

Former disc jockey, (Dick Jones) 30 years, and author of, "I Could Have Been Famous But Sex, Love & Life Got In The Way" available at books, & Kindle, "The Covert Chamber" a mystery novel available at and Barnes & Noble, and "Forgotten" the story of two WWI pilots who were forgotten for over 70 years available on and Kindle
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2 Responses to Such A Deal: You Can Go To Prison, AND…Get Out The Same Day.

  1. swedenole13 says:

    You know, there could be a way to utilize some of these old prisons…Think about all the old folks who can barely make ends meet on their barely subsisting pensions these days…..they could send us all to prison and the government could look after us much like todays prisoners and wouldn’t we all be better off? Health care, dental care, 3 squares a day, a shower a day, a walk in the outdoors but away from all the noise and hustle and bustle, wouldn’t have to worry about transportation, shopping for groceries, paying high medical premiums, insurance and on and on……hmmmmm, might be worth investigatin! LOL!

    • misfit120 says:

      Some good logic there Sandra. AND…..with the mix of both male and female residents in those prisons one would not have to worry about some 250 pound guy named Bruno who wants to be your cell mate pal. At least from my perspective.

      Click here for my daily blog.


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