Dark Tours: Prison Museums and Hotels

  • James C. OlesonEmail author


When carceral punishments supplanted public spectacles of corporal punishment, the public was deprived of an important solidarity-building ritual about crime and punishment. Today, trials are the public spectacle; punishment is invisible. For people interested in real prisons but unwilling to endure the deprivations of a custodial sentence, four principal options are available and this chapter will explore their expression, uptake, and impact. First, it is possible to visit operational prisons. But as a general matter, the public cannot access the interiors of operational prisons. Clandestine tours of Bolivia’s San Pedro Prison are an important exception. Second, urban explorers infiltrate the ruins of abandoned prison facilities. Third, many people tour prison museums. However, prison museums are not limited to America; as indicated in this chapter’s maps, they are located on every continent. Finally, fourth, many decommissioned prisons have been repurposed as hotels.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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