“Grim and gruesome tales from the nearly 200-year history of the commonwealth’s most infamous prison.” —Style Weekly
Thomas Jefferson developed the idea for the Virginia State Penitentiary and set the standard for the future of the American prison system. Designed by U.S. Capitol and White House architect Benjamin Latrobe, the “Pen” opened its doors in 1800. Vice President Aaron Burr was incarcerated there in 1807 as he awaited trial for treason. The prison endured severe overcrowding, three fires, an earthquake and numerous riots. More than 240 prisoners were executed there by electric chair. At one time, the ACLU called it the “most shameful prison in America.” The institution was plagued by racial injustice, eugenics experiments and the presence of children imprisoned among adults. Join author Dale Brumfield as he charts the 190-year history of the iconic prison.
“Undoubtedly the most thorough work of its kind on this defunct Richmond institution that had occupied the same spot on Spring Street for almost 200 years. Dale is thorough in his research, digs deep for data, excavates through layers of ancient papers like an archaeologist. In the bibliography there are more than 300 sources cited. But this is much more than a work of history.”—North of the James