On Wednesday, May 3, TRECA Digital Academy students participated in a 90-minute guided walking tour of the Ohio State Reformatory. The tour covered the general history of the reformatory as well as the Hollywood aspects. The reformatory opened in 1896 and began as a place to house young first-time offenders. The prisoners went to school, learned a trade, and were only in their cells to sleep. Some of them felt like they were getting such a good education, that they didn't apply for parole until they completed their schooling. Due to overcrowding in other prisons, the reformatory eventually had to start taking older inmates, with more serious crimes. The reformatory housed over 155,000 inmates until it closed in December 1990 due to overcrowding and inhumane conditions.
The tour began in the warden's living quarters, followed by the chapel and the various cell blocks. The East Cell Block is six stories high and is the highest freestanding cell block in existence. Students then saw solitary confinement, the library center, and some of the props that were used in the movie,The Shawshank Redemption, that was filmed onsite in 1993.
Over a span of about 20 years, the reformatory has been cleaned, preserved, and restored by volunteers so the public can tour the building and understand what it was like to live and work within it's confines.