In the slammer

Wherever brave pioneers, hardworking settlers and daring frontiersmen go, right on their heels you’ll find the usual band of rascals, scoundrels and horse thieves. Human nature being what it is, folks in Oregon Territory soon found they had a pressing need for a clink — a hoosegow, a brig, a reformatory, a stockade, a house of correction.

State Penitentiary, 1950s

State Penitentiary, 1950s

It’s serious business, trying to enforce the peace, but the story of Oregon’s first jail and then its first territorial and state prison often reads like the Keystone Cops, complete with campaigns to lure the lockup to some different host city and wagonloads of cash that got mislaid by the planners and builders.


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