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Overnight investigation and tour of Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia to be held November 17, 2007.

“Someone once told me that the Eastern State Penitentiary was the East Coast’s Waverly Institute. I disagree. The Waverly is South’s Eastern State,” or so says author Vince Wilson, owner and operator of the Mysterious Maryland Tour Company.

“It’s all relative,” added Wilson. His tour company, which offers haunted tours around the country, is going all out this time.

The Waverly Institute is a well known “haunted” former tuberculosis hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. Now abandoned, it does daily ghost tours and claims to be one of the most haunted places in the world. Many consider Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary its East Coast counterpart.

In 1787, a group of well-known and powerful Philadelphians convened in the home of Benjamin Franklin. The members of The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons expressed growing concern with the conditions in American and European prisons. Dr. Benjamin Rush spoke on the Society’s goal, to see the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania set the international standard in prison design. He proposed a radical idea: to build a true penitentiary, a prison designed to create genuine regret and penitence in the criminal’s heart. The concept grew from Enlightenment thinking, but no government had successfully carried out such a program.

It took the Society more than thirty years to convince the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to build the kind of prison it suggested: a revolutionary new building on farmland outside Philadelphia.

Eastern State Penitentiary broke sharply with the prisons of its day, abandoning corporal punishment and ill treatment. This massive new structure, opened in 1829, became one of the most expensive American buildings of its day and soon the most famous prison in the world. The Penitentiary would not simply punish, but move the criminal toward spiritual reflection and change. The method was a Quaker-inspired system of isolation from other prisoners, with labor. The early system was strict. To prevent distraction, knowledge of the building, and even mild interaction with guards, inmates were hooded whenever they were outside their cells. But the proponents of the system believed strongly that the criminals, exposed, in silence, to thoughts of their behavior and the ugliness of their crimes, would become genuinely penitent. Thus the new word, penitentiary.

“The extreme isolation there was worse than torture in some cases. It was a kind of suffering only a few could possibly imagine,” says Vince Wilson.

Wilson is the author of Ghost Tech and Ghost Science. He has lectured on ghost hunting technology and has also appeared on all the major local TV stations in the Baltimore area and on numerous radio stations in regards to his work in paranormal research. He has also been featured on Creepy Canada in 2005 aboard the USS Constellation and the Discovery Channel in 2006 for an investigation he did at the Edgar Allan Poe House in Baltimore. In the November issue of Wired Magazine he was referred to as probably the “foremost expert of the technology of ghost hunting in the US.”

Wilson’s Mysterious Maryland Tour Company will be broadcasting live from the over two hundred year old prison via streaming video on the Internet. Wilson and his crew of ghost hunters, tourists, and guests hope to capture some of the supposed paranormal activity there via the broadcast.

“It would be so great if everyone could see what was going on there if a ghost make’s appearance”, says and excited Wilson, “But it would be cooler still if you were there in person.”

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