Penitentiaries seem to be one of the favorite places for spirits. Most likely this is because of the hardships that prisoners endured during their incarceration. The negative energy seems to stay embedded within its walls. Idaho State Penitentiary is another prison on the long list of America’s most haunted prisons.

There have been many accounts of various paranormal and unusual happenings in the prison grounds. However, 5 House, were Snowden (Idaho’s Jack the Ripper) was executed is said to be the most haunted and most active of all the rooms in the castle.

It’s believed that Snowden’s spirit has never left the penitentiary. Many state that he has been haunting the grounds since his execution that fateful day in October of 1957. The majority of the prisoners, visitors, and guards have reported a feeling of dread and oppression in certain areas.

Visitors, as well as staff, have reported hearing footsteps echoing in the halls when there is no one else around. Disembodied voices have been heard and those who have participated on walking tours have reported being touched and sometimes, even pushed by unseen hands.

Most people that have entered the penitentiary say that they had a feeling of being watched and it is also very common to hear reports of apparitions and shadowy figures lingering throughout the abandoned prison.

Brief History of Idaho State Penitentiary

In the early 19th century much of Idaho was still frontier land. Most of the settlements were lawless and in order to be included in the union, it has to have a penitentiary and so Idaho State Penitentiary was established. It began in 1870 as a one-cell house and quickly became a complex of buildings which were surrounded by a large wall made of sandstone.

Part of the prisoners’ penance was to mine the nearby rock quarries in order to build the very walls which would restrict them from leaving the prison. Over the next century more than 10,000 convicts, both men and women, were kept in the penitentiary. 110 prisoners died due to illness, murder and old age. Only 10 executions were carried out in the prison.

The brutal conditions in the penitentiary were very controversial. It is reported that inmates suffered from inhumane conditions. The cells were very hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. It also did not have plumbing.

Riots broke out in the prison in 1971 and in 1973. The chapel was burned by prisoners and many other buildings were damaged. The 1973 riot was worse than the one before it and shortly after prisoners were moved to be more modern and more equipped penitentiary located in the south of Idaho. On December 3, 1973 the prisoner was shut down and was placed on the list of the National Register of Historic Places.

The buildings were left as they were after the riot. Visitors to the prison today will see calendars hanging from walls and what was left of the prison after the riot. One of the prisoner’s most popular inmates was Raymond Allen Snowden, who is also dubbed as “Idaho’s Jack the Ripper”.