PRISON: In 2014 the state proposed closing the Charles Bass Correctional Complex in Nashville with a goal of saving over $16 million per year.Read More
Maximum security sunrise: In 2015 Newsweek Magazine reported that over 2.2 million people are incarcerated in American jails or prisons. America has the largest jail/prison population in the world.
If those numbers are hard to imagine, think of it this way:
If you took the population of Delaware and multiplied it by two and then added the population of Rutherford County, TN - - you would have the number of those behind bars in the United States.
Or… If you took the population of Washington D.C. and multiplied it by three and then added 156,490 people - - you would have the number of those behind bars in the United States.
The number of men and women behind bars is larger than the population of 16 U.S. states.
Still not easy enough to wrap your mind around? More people are sitting in American jail or prison cells than the population of 87 different countries around the world.
Jail Vs. Prison Basics:
If you didn’t realize it, jail and prison are very different. Those who are in a prison have already gone through court proceedings and were found guilty. Their time behind bars is usually one year to life.
Typically, those who are in jail are awaiting their trial or unable to make bond. Others sitting in jails across the country are being held for misdemeanor crimes that don’t exceed 11 months and 29 days. Of course, you could be in a jail longer if convicted of multiple misdemeanor charges or if you are enrolled in a special program.
Children without Parents:
The Casey Foundation reported that over 5 million children in the United States have had at least one parent behind bars at one point or another. Those numbers equal one out of every fourteen kids who have had a parent behind bars during their toddler, early childhood or adolescent years.
The cost of bars:
The cost to keep inmates in confinement equals around $70 billion annually, according to WIRED.com.
Why has the prison population spiked since 1980?
Prison and local jail populations have skyrocketed in the United States over the past 35+ years, but why? Some would blame the problem on laws surrounding marijuana or alcohol consumption. Those who blame such are only correct by a fraction.
Mental Illness is the real contributor to the increased prison and jail system populations.
The Urban Institute reports that over 60% of local jail inmates have mental problems while nearly the same number present mentally ill symptoms.
State prisoners also have a lot of the same issues as local jails. In state prisons, over 55% of inmates have some type of mental problem and another 48% or so show symptoms.
At the Federal prison level, about 45% of inmates have mental issues while 40% show mentally ill symptoms, according to the Urban Institute.
Black, white, red, tan or brown… those who live a life of violence, hurt, crime, addiction, relationship issues, etc. typically have one thing in common: Childhood trauma
I have been thinking about this project I came across in Chattanooga. It is in an area that is known for violence, increased arrests, drug sales, etc.
The project is called FACE to FACE and it shares thoughts of children in East Chattanooga by way of art.
It is always interesting to me that some of the most talented youth live in some of the most crime ridden areas of America. The arts is their escape from childhood pain experienced at home, an escape from the violence they witness on the street – art is the safe place for some.
The painted faces on the red, yellow and blue backdrop are self-portraits of the youth involved in the project. Some of the quotes written are their thoughts on violence.
One of the thoughts put into words:
“I live in East Chattanooga and I am affected by the poor housing. The lack of education and the lack of recreational activities for our youth. Also, there is a lot of drugs and gang violence. But on the real, East Chattanooga is rich with deep history and people.”
The brick archway was once the entrance to Delanie Park and later the Highway 58 Drive-In Movie Theater. Now, it is an overgrown field, but perhaps an open field to more positive growth in the city.
This mural was put together between 2013 and 2014 and still stands in 2018 with natural growth, but without vandalism.
In closing... Black, white, red, tan or brown - - those who live a life of violence, hurt, crime, addiction, relationship issues, etc. typically have one thing in common: Childhood trauma
A lot of people have seen and talked about the massive mural on an abandoned concrete silo in Nashville, but few take the time to properly jump the fence around it. The mural is in an area that is called “The Nations.”
Let me back up a little… Many people see it, but do they see the side of it that includes two curious children with one reaching for the sky? Do people know why a man is painted on the front or why kids are painted on the side?
Australian artist Guido Van Helten is known around the globe for painting massive portraits that eerily look real. One of his famous pieces is located in an industrial area of Nashville near the old and shut down Tennessee Prison.
On the front of the Nashville silo is 91 year old Lee Estes who is often referred to as LD. He grew up in the area around the massive silo. Mr. Estes is the kind of guy who volunteers to help others, is always walking the block to see what’s going on and more. But, why was he picked and why are two kids on the side of silo?
Mr. Estes represents the neighborhood, or so to speak. He represents the old, the original and the start of the area. Another question would be, “Why are kids on the side?” Simple, Van Helten painted two boys that live in the area to represent the new, the change, the growth of the area known as The Nations.
In case you’re curious, the area around the old prison and the silo is changing in leaps and bounds. Most would agree it is changing for the good. Old homes are being rebuilt while some are being completely replaced. Shut down factories and warehouses are being turned into new businesses. Buildings that were once industrial and now falling apart are being torn down while new condos are going up.
As for artwork, The Nations neighborhood has artwork everywhere. It is well worth the drive to explore. It kinda’ represents the change that we are seeing throughout Middle Tennessee. That change includes an appreciation for art that makes our world look a little nicer.
It was like walking through a bad movie set in California… At the same time, it felt as if someone was watching my every step.
I was at Guntown Mountain Amusement Park in Cave City, Kentucky. The park opened in 1969 and closed down a number of years ago. It was later purchased by a Louisville, KY businessman who had big dreams in 2015. Will Russell renamed the park “Funtown Mountain” and reopened it with the idea of a multi-million dollar renovation plan set for the near future.
While the park was once again opened in 2015, the renovation plan was never executed.
The Courier Journal newspaper reported that Mr. Russell saw his plans threatened after a severe manic episode related to bipolar disorder. Later that year, the Cave City Police Department shut down Funtown after vandalism and looting were reported on the property. The article suggested that Will Russell somehow instigated the crime, but failed to report as to why that accusation was made.
The newly named Funtown was quickly closed for good when bank payments could not be made on loans to keep the park active. It was later sold at Auction in April of 2016 for less than $300,000. The new owner had grand plans of turning the property into a resort complete with zip lines, cabins and an indoor water park. Those grandiose plans have yet to materialize and the park sits like the movie set of an old Friday the 13th movie.
“We're all lonely for something we don't know we're lonely for. How else to explain the curious feeling that goes around feeling like missing somebody we've never even met?”
― David Foster Wallace, American Writer (1962-2008)
Memorial Day, a time to remember our fallen veterans.
Photo of headstone for US Army Vietnam Veteran James Albert Thornburg of Tennessee. He served under the 1st Infantry Division, Battalion 8 in the 6/15th Artillery Company, Deadly Alpha from April of 1967 until April of 1968.
Thornburg received the National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Bronze Star with V Device and Two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Unit Citation, and the Presidential Citation.
He died at age 56 in year 2002.
Walking into old and decaying motels is like stepping back into history. The doors that connect the adjoining rooms are narrow, which today would not be allowed. The walls were paper thin and you could likely hear even the faintest whisper from the neighboring television set, that had rabbit ears on the top.
Yet, there is something romantic about the simplicity of old structures. The bright colors that once adorned the walls. The idea of random people stopping along the highway for a good nights rest for $19 or less. The doors used a real key as opposed to a plastic card.
The old and now deserted Tennessee Prison opened in Nashville during the year of 1898. It later closed down in 1992. But, do you know why it shut down?
The prison shut down due to a class action lawsuit filed in 1983. The Federal Courts issued a permanent injunction that prohibited the state from ever putting another inmate into the old Tennessee State Prison.
The Grubbs V. Bradley case led to the determination that the conditions of living behind the walls was unfit for human habitation. Some prisoners had as little as 19-square feet in their prison cells.
Scotty Grubb and four additional inmates filed a suit on behalf of themselves and others being held in the prison in 1983. The suit alleged rampant violence, improper medical care, poor sanitation and overcrowding. Violence, according to court documents, included rape, robbery, stabbings, inmate vs. guard violence, guard vs. inmate violence and murder.
In the medical hospital on site, prisoners who were trustees were said to be involved in the direct delivery of health care. The inmates, who were completely exempt of certifications, licensure or training in the health care industry, assisted in examinations, surgeries, cleaning medical equipment, reviewing inmate medical records and more.
As a result of the court findings, the old Tennessee Prison eventually shut down.
Tennessee Department of Correction opened a the new Riverbend Maximum Security Institution at Nashville in 1989.
Grubbs v. Bradley, 552 F. Supp. 1052 (M.D. Tenn. 1982)
Nashville Sounds, Greer Stadium: The Herschel Greer Stadium was built in 1978 for the Nashville Sounds. Many who grew up in and around Middle Tennessee have fond memories of games at the Nashville stadium. Hot dogs, cold beer and mustard covered pretzels are likely included in some of your memories.
The Nashville Sounds became a part of Nashville when Larry Schmittou decided he wanted to bring baseball back to Davidson County. In the 1970’s, Schmittou inked a deal with the City of Nashville for the plot of land below Fort Negley. The fort was a forgotten part of the American Civil War and had not been developed into a tourist stop until 2004, years after the construction of the baseball stadium.
Schmittou was born into baseball and even named after “Larry” Gilbert, manager of the Nashville Vols Minor League Baseball Team (1938-1948).
The Nashville native began his coaching career as a junior at Cohn High School, coaching for a youth baseball team of children who were 12 and under. After graduating from Peabody College (later merged with Vanderbilt), he became a teacher for the Nashville Public Schools and eventually moved on to become the head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team from 1968 to 1978.
Schmittou was also an entrepreneur. In the late 1970’s, he owned several minor league baseball teams, but the Music City was always in his heart as the Nashville Sounds was his very first minor league team.
As for the name of the Greer Stadium, it also has to do with Tennessee baseball history. The stadium was named after Herschel Lynn Greer, a Nashville businessman and the very first president of the Nashville Vols baseball team. Greer died in 1976, so the naming of the stadium came after his death.
In 2014 the stadium closed down as the Sounds moved to their newly built First Tennessee Park. The new park is built on the Sulphur Dell site, which was the original location of the Nashville Vols baseball team.
By the way, the original name of the Sulphur Dell ballpark was the Sulphur Springs Ball Park, named after a Sulphur spring near the site. The word “Spring” was eventually dropped and changed to “Dell” by a Nashville sportswriter, suggesting that “Dell” rhymed with more stuff in his unique sports stories.
There is something romantic in a whimsical sense about an old 1960's gas station sitting empty on an old country road in the middle of nowhere Georgia.
This was once a full service shop with a single bay, unlike what you see today. Pay at the pump did not exist, you had to make human contact for a gas transaction. Needed to use the phone, it cost you 10-cents to utilize what hung on the side of a pole about 50 feet away from the pumps. Buying a single candy bar and a glass bottle of Coca-Cola while using a credit card... unheard of.
"Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days." - Doug Larson
They quietly sit empty in Florida on a small and shallow lake. Urban decay somewhere in Florida.
"Without publicity there can be no public support, and without public support every nation must decay." - Benjamin Disraeli
In 1959 four doctors founded the Old South Pittsburgh Hospital in the hills of South Pittsburgh, Tennessee. The medical facility met the surgery needs of the community and even had a small wing for mental patients.
Some report the hospital is haunted due to the many deaths that occurred in the block and concrete structure over the years. As with any medical facility, some of those deaths involved children, adults, car wreck victims, etc. Wrongful death suits were filed in several cases, but that was not believed the reason for the hospital closing their doors to patients in 1998.
Due to a brand new hospital opening in a nearby city, the Old South Pittsburgh Hospital could no longer stay in the black.
Prior to the hospital being constructed, the land that the facility sits on was once a large southern plantation. A fire in the 1920’s destroyed the plantation home which reportedly left 7 children dead, according to the Old South Pittsburgh Hospital Ghost Hunters.
Today, the former hospital has been labeled as one of the most haunted places in Tennessee. To answer your question, no… I did not feel as if it was haunted. But, maybe I refuse to think such a structure could be haunted and therefore failed to see what others have claimed to see.
Prior to World War II, a large military base formed in Union County Kentucky. The United States Government came in and gave farmers below what would be considered fair market value at the time for their land. The flat acreage where you could see as far as 16-miles proved to be the perfect training grounds troops to learn war weaponry of guns and tanks. The rural area is a little over an hour away from Clarksville near the Indiana state line.
Camp Breckinridge in Union County was the headquarters of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
As World War II broke out in 1937, the U.S. Army quickly realized they needed a place to house German Prisoners of War. The base in Union County became the official P.O.W. prison camp housing 3,000 Germans.
The base population stood at about 45 thousand residents prior and during WWII and later the Korean War. The large base was also home to basic training for new Army recruits in the 30’s and 40’s.
Today, the population in Union County, Kentucky is about 15,000 residents. Of course, that is a drastic drop compared to the 45,000 military residents and 3,000 inmates that called Union County home between 1930 and 1950.
Most of the old World War II era barracks that were left standing were sold to investors in the 1970’s as the land was divided, but the majority of the military classrooms, prison walls, prison cells, cafeteria’s and stores on the massive base were torn down when the government shut the base down. Investors later hired contractors to perform low cost renovations on the interior of the 1930 era barracks dividing them into duplexes so that they could be rented out to residents of low income brackets.
As we drove through what was once the base, every 50 to 100 feet you could see large smoke stacks protruding through heavily dense wooded areas that were to my right and left. I then stopped the truck and walked into the woods to further examine the stack's. I could still see the concrete foundations to old military buildings that probably went for miles. There were 50 or more stacks on the land in the area near the old barracks.
A railroad once ran between the military base and the Ohio River, which was only about 7 miles away. Supplies were shipped to the base on barges and by rail.
On the banks of the river, we found a massive chain that may have once been used to tie off the barges while they unloaded. The large chain was about six inches in diameter.
As you look at these photos, imagine it a base that was once alive and vibrant.
This is an old deserted home I came across recently. It was a little creepy, lot's of dolls lying around in the rubble.
While I realize this was once a home, I could not get the thought out of my mind about all the waste we have in our heads. I know that sounds weird, but I saw the comparison with this house. Years of debris like the doll I found with the head ripped off... I don't think I will be back to visit this place.
"If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment, other people's opinions will rush in from all quarters." - George Bernard Shaw
Detroit has more than 10,000 abandoned homes and is labeled as having the highest crime rate in America. However, it was almost poetic seeing architecturally beautiful 19th century homes falling apart in fields all throughout Detroit. It was like walking through a graveyard of vast wealth that no one kept up with.
This home, probably 5,000 square feet in size, was missing the entire back wall.
"Art is never finished, only abandoned." - Leonardo da Vinci
A neighborhood street in the downtown area of Detroit.
"Downtown Detroit has more vacant buildings over 10 storeys than any city in the world." - Meg White
This small building was built in 1967. It sits behind a shuttered Detroit Fire Station that still has a 1980’s model fire truck sitting in the rear parking lot.
The building, once covered in graffiti, was pressure washed and nicknamed “Dzale’s House of Faith.” That was over 10-years ago and I have no clue as to who Dzale is or where he might be? I can say for sure, he was not in his house of faith.
Today, it sits empty.
The walls were blank of family portraits, but it was clearly evident that this house was once a home to someone or some family. The house was on an empty street that was once crowded with homes. The City of Detroit bulldozed the other homes on the road to prevent arson, which costs the city money. This home, likely still owned by a family, was spared.
“Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, then all you can see is what is not there any more.” ― Robin Hobb, Fool's Fate
An empty house in the mountains of East Tennessee sits alone and overgrown with dust. Papers are in place as if someone left their life out the front door. Canning jars were filled on shelves with newspapers dating back 50-years or more.
"Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it." - Theodore Roosevelt
In the middle of rural America sits an empty and deserted Nuclear Plant. Some may find that hard to swallow, but it is closer than one might think to their backyard.
The Hartsville Tennessee Nuclear Plant is in Trousdale County, a county with a population of less than 2,400 residents. The Tennessee Valley Authority decided to build the massive nuclear plant on land directly next to the Cumberland River in the 1960’s. The idea was to construct four General Electric boiling water reactors to generate electrical power. The plant would heat water to the point of steam which would drive a steam turbine. Heat would have been produced by nuclear fission in the reactor core.
The problem with the Hartsville Nuclear Plant, it never materialized. Construction got underway in 1975 and came to an abrupt stop in 1983. It was fully cancelled in 1984.
Today, the plant sits empty and unfinished. The state later decided to use the site to build a 2,552 bed medium security prison. The facility is called the Trousdale County Correctional Center. It was built at a cost of $143 million.