Yuma Territorial Prison

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The Yuma Territorial Prison was not like typical prisons by today’s standards or the standards of other prisons in the 1800’s. The construction and architecture of the prison was one thing that was unique. The prison was not only built by the prisoners, but (even more unique by today’s standards) was built entirely by hand without the use of any form of power tools. As for the architecture, all of the guard towers had huge peaked roofs that were used as insulation by creating more airspace between the roof and the actual building. When the Yuma Territorial Prison was constructed in 1875, Yuma’s population and popularity increased significantly. By building a prison in Yuma, jobs were opening up that paid better than any other job at the time.…show more content…
The rules and regulations stated that if a prisoner even had a stench about them that they would be sentenced to punishment. Some of the punishments would include up to fifteen days in the dark cell, a cell made entirely out of granite with only a small ventilation shaft to let any light in. Depending on the infraction committed, the prison guards would often drop snakes and scorpions down the shaft onto the prisoners. The prison rules consisted of some of the following restrictions: Prisoners shall not in any way deface the walls of their cell. At the ringing of the morning bell, every prisoner will turn out, dress.make up his bed neatly, and be ready for marching out. There were many punishments for breaking the rules, some punishments included time in the dark cell. The dark cell was a cell dug into the mountainside with a steel cage inside. While in the dars cell, the only light came from a small ventilation shaft that the guards would sometimes drop snakes down into the cell onto the prisoners. Other, less brutal punishments included the use of the ball and chain, or chaining a prisoner to the floor through a small ring. The most common method of punishment was solitary confinement. A prisoner was sentenced to solitary confinement for everything including: cooking in the yard, fighting, and bad…show more content…
Around the time that the prison closed, a flood came through and seriously damaged the town of Yuma. When this happened, the townspeople decided to go up to the prison and scavenge for materials but when they had finished the prison site ended up looking like a bombing site. The townspeople of Yuma accidentally destroyed one of the biggest pieces of Yuma’s history. Another significant use of the prison after it closed down was as the first residence of Yuma High School. The prison hospital and library were the main locations that class took place, but some of the cells were also used. During the football games and other events, other schools would taunt the students of Yuma High by calling them criminals (Because their school was in the abandoned prison) but the students of Yuma High became proud of that and the mascot became the Criminal. When Hollywood made the old timey Western films, one of the locations for filming particularly the refuge defense scenes. Hollywood portrayed the prison as a refuge, and a place worth defending. Another important use for the prison was during World War II, one of the main guard towers was used as an observation tower by the Civil Defense. From 1914-1923 the prison was used as a county

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