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Tourist Trap: West Virginia Penitentiary, Moundsville

Don’t have a Civil War battlefield, aquarium, or giant ball of string? How about the local lockup? Across the nation, communities have turned some 40 old jails and prisons into tourism sites. At the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, shuttered in 1995 after the state Supreme Court ruled that its 5×7 cells constituted cruel and unusual punishment, visitors are told how overhead fencing protected guards from debris thrown by inmates. Among the most popular events are “Dungeon of Horrors” Halloween tours; you can also stay at the prison overnight.

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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