Indiana State Prison History
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Indiana gained statehood in 1816 and the first Indiana State Prison was built in Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1822. In 1858 the state was looking for a second location to build another prison. A Michigan City businessman, Chancy Blair, happened to own 102 acres of land on the western edge of the city limits, and he offered to sell his property to the state for the sum of $4,500. After purchasing the land, and gaining financial support from the State Legislature the first Warden, C.W. Seely was selected and began construction on the prison with 100 offenders from Jeffersonville. To date, there have been 33 men who have served as Warden/Superintendent. Ron Neal is currently the Superintendent of the Indiana State Prison.
The Prison’s first perimeter wall enclosed 8.3 acres and each wall was 600 feet long. Through the years, as additional room was needed, the facility was enlarged to 24 acres inside the wall. There are ten gun towers on the walls and they are manned everyday, 24 hours. Both prisons in Michigan City and Jeffersonville were named the Indiana State Prison, one designated Prison North and the other Prison South. In 1922, Prison South was destroyed by a fire and the designation was no longer necessary, and this prison became the oldest facility in the system. Prior to 1952, a Board of Trustees and the Warden managed each facility. In l952, the Department of Correction was founded, which eliminated the necessity for the Boards.
Indiana State Prison is the oldest facility in the system and the staff takes pride in keeping the buildings and grounds clean and presentable. Each spring and summer the sidewalks are lined with flowers, as are certain areas inside the wall. The prison is designated a “level four” maximum security facility, which houses offenders with very long sentences and/or individuals convicted of violent crimes.
Also located on the prison grounds is a “level two” facility, formerly known as Lakeside Correctional Facility. It has a capacity for 385 offenders, and the prison uses their offenders to maintain the grounds, building maintenance and food preparation for the Staff Dining Room.