Popular Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is just one of dozens of old prisons and jails around the world that shut down during March 2020 in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Old Prisons photo by Claudia Elliott

Old Prisons

Museums and attractions related to old prisons and jails around the world are almost certainly closed as of April 1, 2020, as the governments and organizations everywhere make an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus.

Many attractions have information posted on their websites about closures. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control provides updated guidelines.

Facing the challenge

In addition to the health risk, organizations and businesses in communities near popular attractions are facing the economic challenge related to the closures and uncertainty about when it will be considered safe for people to travel again.

From tiny community jail museums to large former prisons operated by nonprofit organizations, efforts to meet the challenge are underway.

When social distancing allows, some volunteers and staff are using the downtime for extra cleaning and creation of new displays and exhibits.

If you have a favorite attraction, you may want to visit the organization’s website and see if there are opportunities to donate to help keep operations functioning.

‘Armchair travel’

Although actual travel must be postponed for now, a number of prison museums offer online resources that are entertaining — and will help you plan for future trips.

Among these are:

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, San Francisco California

Angola Museum at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana

Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Missouri State Penitentiary, Jefferson, Missouri

Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield (also check out the Shawshank Fan Club)

Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho

Old Montana Prison Museums, Deer Lodge, Montana

West Virginia Penitentiary, Moundsville, West Virginia

Yuma Territorial Prison, Yuma, Arizona