(Illinois State Penitentiary) (Joliet Correctional Center)

1125 Collins Street, Joilet, IL

(312) 978-1282

Status: Former Penitentiary; Tourist Attraction; Open 10am - 5:30pm Wednesday to Sunday



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Joseph Gage from USA - 20200829-DSCF4977


This prison was opened in 1858 when 33 inmates from Alton arrived to continue the construction. During the Civil War both inmates and POWs were confined here. By 1872 the population had reached 1,239 which was a record for a single prison at the time.

The prison originally held female prisoners as well in a separate building but in 1896 a new women’s prison was built across the street and by 1933 all female prisoners had been moved over.

The Stateville Correctional Center opened in 1925 and that was supposed to result in the closure of Joliet due to its outdated infrastructure and slow modernization but that never happened. It is unclear why the State didn’t close Joliet as had been planned but is probably due to the large prison populations.

By the 1960’s the prison contained both a permanent population and a reception and classification center where inmates were held for about a month before being transferred to their final holdings. The prison processed about 20,000 of these prisoners each year.

In 1990 the prison population peaked at 1,300 but began to drop into the early 21st Century. By 2002 Joliet was only a holding prison with obsolete infrastructure and buildings so old they were too dangerous for human habitation.

That year the Prison was closed and remained abandoned until 2018 when the Joliet Area Historical Museum took over. The former prison is now open to the public and offers a number of different tours including a Haunted History Tour in the evening which doesn’t include paranormal investigating but focuses on some of the prison’s most notorious residents.

The prison hosted some famous criminals over its history including John Wayne Gacy, Richard Speck and Adolf Luetgert.


Paranormal Activity

Apparitions of former inmates and employees. Feelings of being watched, being followed, not being wanted, sadness, anger and pure fear. Disembodied voices, phantom footsteps, screams, bangs and other loud unexplainable noises. Doors opening and closing on their own and objects moving on their own. Shadow figures.

Light anomalies; mysterious mists; electrical disturbances; touches, pulls and tugs by unseen presences; feelings of oppression and claustrophobia including difficulty breathing; responses to investigator’s questions by knocks or other stimuli.