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She’ll Add New OSR Dimension 

She’ll Add New OSR Dimension 

By: Ed Kenyon 

Proponents of prison reform and women’s liberation have scored a major victory Mrs. Linda Bolin being added to the “behind-the-walls staff” at the Ohio State Reformatory.  

Mrs. Bolin, 22, who resides near Mifflin, is the first woman to work directly with inmates in the depths of a male Ohio prison.  

Yesterday was Mrs. Bolin’s first day on the job at OSR, as a staff member of the psychological services department.  

There are other women employed at the Reformatory. Last year OSR hired a woman corrections officer. However, in her duties in the mail room and the visiting area, this officer has only limited contact with the inmates. Women college instructors have taught at OSR on a periodic basis. Several women are employed in clerical positions outside the walls.  

But, Mrs. Bolin is the first woman in this state’s history to daily work face-to-face with men who have been convicted of a variety of crimes against society. The pretty, petite young woman is faced with a number of challenges at the Reformatory. A major challenge, she feels is to do a job which has always been done by men.  

“I am a woman and I have to succeed for my sex,” Mrs. Bolin explained to The News Journal. “As a woman, I have some things to prove. Yes, I identify with women’s liberation.  

Among her responsibilities in the psychological services department. Mrs. Bolin will help prepare psychological evaluations of men going before the parole and administers psychological tests to men entering the institution. 

On the average, there are more than 1,600 men locked in the Reformatory. They don’t see women very often.   

“I am not afraid to be here.” Mrs. Bolin said without hesitation. “I have thought about what could happen. But I am not afraid.”  

“Look, you can’t go through life being scared of things. There are risks everywhere. People are dying every day on highways. People are getting shot in shopping centers.” 

Mrs. Bolin pointed out that being a woman in a male prison, she has to use common sense in certain matters. “I am not going to run around out here in mini-skirts.”  

Robert C. White, OSR superintendent, said the prison administration is taking no special precautions for Mrs. Bolin. She will go about her job as do other members of the psychological services staff.  

White said the hiring of Mrs. Bolin is in keeping with the new philosophy of Ohio penal officials to employe more women in male prisons and more men in the female institutions. This concept is being used to help make prisons a less foreign or unnatural place for the inmates.  

Mrs. Bolin’s husband, Dennis, was recently employed as a teacher at Fields High School in the Reformatory. White said the fact that they are married had nothing to do with Mr. and Mrs. Bolin being hired to their respective positions at OSR.  

A Cleveland native, Mrs. Bolin graduated last year from Bowling Green State University where she majored in psychology. Mr. and Mrs. Bolin moved to the Mansfield area from Colorado about two months ago.  

Mrs. Bolin intended to start her career as a social worker. During her junior year in college, she became interested in prison work while taking a course from a professor who worked in the Vermont prison system.  

“I heard there was a possibility of a woman being employed in the Reformatory. It was my understanding that the Reformatory was a progressive prison. I applied and got the job,” Mrs. Bolin said.  

Mrs. Bolin’s main concern at OSR is to be part of helping the inmates return to free society and lead a positive life.  

She is also at OSR to learn.  

“I have learned a lot from books. But I know there is much more to how people act than just pure theory.  

Mrs. Bolin feels that being a woman may, in some cases giver her an edge in her job.  

“Some men tend to take a softer attitude when dealing with a woman,” she explained.  

Her boss, White, agrees with this. He asserted, “I have seen many people relate to a woman where they wouldn’t a man.”  

However, Mrs. Bolin noted in her position at the Reformatory she is face by the same problem as the male staff members.  

“Remember, these inmates we work with are in this place against their will.” 




First Woman Officer at Mansfield


She Works Behind Prison Wall 

By: Charlotte Taylor  

MANSFIELD – The first woman officer in an all-male Ohio prison is a genteel, gray-haired mother of two teenaged sons, who walks on opposite sides of the street from ardent women’s liberationists.  

Mrs. Doris Balyeat has been one month on the job at Ohio State Reformatory, which houses some 2,300 prisoners. Her only worry was that male officers would resent her. It never materialized.  

A divorcee with a 14-year-old son at home, Mrs. Balyeat had been working the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift at the local post office with little hope of having her hours changed.  

“The money was good, but it was hard physical labor,” she said. “I had to leave my son alone at night. I didn’t worry when my other son was home, but he is in the service now.” 

Mrs. Balyeat applied for a clerical job at the Mansfield Institution, then turned down an offer because of the salary.  

“When I refused,” she said, “the personnel director said he had a surprise for me. He told me the wanted to try out a woman officer, and it sounded so challenging that I accepted immediately. They pay was better, and I knew I would be working days and could spend time with my son.” 

Training the Same 

Working in the mail room and visitor reception area, Mrs. Balyeat checks letters and packages coming into the institution. She also searches female visitors who have been known to smuggle in contraband items, either in packages or their purses.  

Before she was hired, there was no one to actually “shake down” female visitors who might be carrying something on their person.  

The female officer is not in the cell block areas with prisoners, but she required the same training as any other prison officer.  

“I learned to walk the wall,” she said, proudly “and even hit my target during target practice. . . I almost landed on the ground with the kick.” 

Mrs. Balyeat’s uniform is a cut-down Air Force officers jacket made in the prison tailor shop. “They had a little trouble with the skirt,” she laughed. “It’s a bit too full to wear with this type of jacket, so they are cutting it down.”  

The lone female officer has never been afraid. “One,” she says, “The security is good, and two, I’ve been around boys rather than girls all mt life and I feel more comfortable with them.” She projects a motherly image toward the inmates never referring to them as prisoners but always as “the boys.” She comes in daily contact with the honor prisoners who work in her office and finds them courteous and respectful.  

One kiddingly told her he was going to ask for a transfer to Marysville (a female institution) “since women’s lib has moved in here.”  

Doors Are Opened 

Mrs. Balyeat believes she has opened the door for other women to work in the male prisons, but “I don’t think you could call me a woman’s liberationist,” she said. “I do believe that if women are doing the same job as men, then very definitely they should be paid the same. 

“There are more and more women like myself, supporting families today,” she reasoned.  

But at the same time, “When I am driving down the road and have a flat tire and no one stops to help me, that’s when I think women’s lib has gone too far,” she quipped.  

The outspoken Mrs. Balyeat contends that at one time she was a shy, timid woman and credits her service in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II as giving her self-confidence and the ability to talk freely and openly.  

Bernard Barton, superintendent of the almost 100-year-old Reformatory, calls her the best public relations image the prison has.  

“You deal with a lot of women here coming to visit their husbands, their brothers, their sons or their boyfriends,” he said. “Mrs. Balyeat establishes a rapport with these women when they check in at the visitor’s center. It makes working with the families of these men much easier, if they get a good image of the institution.”  

‘We Are Helping’ 

While Mrs. Balyeat has been at the Reformatory only one month, she has definite ideas about how inmates should be helped: rehabilitation through training and education.  

“Most of these boys are here because they don’t have a trade and don’t have an education, so they get into trouble,” she said. “They can finish high school here and learn a trade, they have every chance to be helped so they will have an occupation to follow when they get out.”  

She paused for a moment, then added, “I like it here, and I feel we are helping these boys. And I like being able to be at home with my son.  

“I think he’s glad too, I had never thought he was afraid of staying alone at night. . . but when I got this job he told me, ‘I’m glad you are going to be at home when I’m sleeping.’ 

“That means a lot, you know.”  


March 2024 Restoration

March 2024 Restoration:  

The Bullpen 

When the Ohio State Reformatory opened its doors to the first 150 inmates in 1896, the area we know today as the bullpen was the original dining hall for the institution. The large gray wall on the south side of the bullpen is not original to the building. The dining hall at OSR consisted of 2 floors, instead of one.  

Very early on in the institution’s history, overcrowding became a major issue. In 1919, Warden Thomas Jenkins had a much larger dining hall built at the institution. The new dining hall had a capacity of 2,000 and was built entirely by inmates of the Reformatory. However, in 1938 changes were made yet again at the institution when Warden Arthur Glattke had another dining hall built near the west gate of OSR. This dining hall would remain until 1990, when the institution closed.  

After the Bullpen was abandoned as a dining hall, it became a central hub for guards at OSR. Guards at OSR were nicknamed “Bulls” and that’s how it got its name. The location of the Bullpen was seated perfectly between both the east and west cell blocks, solitary confinement, administration, and the yard. Before inmates could be sent out to yard, they were counted off, and given directions by a guard standing on a small stage in the center.  

In Hollywood, the bullpen was used in the Shawshank Redemption when all the new fish lined up on the famous yellow line as Warden Norton gave his famous “Put your trust in the Lord” speech. They also filmed Andy’s delousing scene, in the bullpen.  

Today, the bullpen is still a central hub, but for visitors deciding whether to visit the North Central Ohio Industrial Museum, Solitary Confinement, the West Cell Block, or escape Shawshank and visit the Museum Store or Scofield Cafe.  

When the Ohio State Reformatory closed in 1990, it would go on to sit officially abandoned for about 5 years. Time, weather, and no care over time can wreak havoc on a historic site and as time went on the large pieces of tile on the floor became warped and started coming loose.  

Today our restoration team has taken up many of the loose tiles and laid a new foundation for them. Once everything is properly set, the tiles will be placed back on the floor, with no more warping or fear of breaking.  

Females On Guard At OSR

This article was found on at comes from the May 7th, 1976 edition of the Mansfield News-Journal

Females On Guard At OSR  

By: Joan Brown  

Mary Shoulders says she wouldn’t hesitate to shoot an inmate climbing over the walls at the Ohio State Reformatory. That’s what a correctional officer at the institution might have to do, and that’s what Mary is.  

Mary and her ex-sister-in-law, Rita Shoulders, are the first female officers to work on the high surrounding walls and in the cell blocks at the penal institution. Mary and Rita are there because they need work and because the law grants women equal opportunity in the job market.  

Rita, 34 and Mary, 32, didn’t intend to be correctional officers at OSR. Rita applied for the mail room and Mary tagged along with male applicants who were scouting for work at the institution. Maybe there would be. A job for her too?  

But correctional officers at OSR earn $4.24 an hour to start, and Rita has two children to support and Mary, four children. Both women needed work.  

When Rita’s friends heard about her new title, she said they pronounced: “You’re crazy to work out there.” Mary’s mother and sister worry about Mary’s safety.  

Others are concerned, too.  

Rita’s immediate supervisor, Clarence Kirkendall, manager of the commissary inside the walls where Rita works from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., admits he “doesn’t approve of it.”  

“I don’t think it’s a place for a woman. She is exposed to every inmate at least once a week. We closed the door at 7:30 last night and it embarrassed me to hear the language,” said Kirkendall. 

“By having her here, it also brings pressures on me. There are employees who wanted this job in the commissary for years before they put her in here. Yet, I have no recourse but to accept her.” 

Mary said she isn’t frightened at all to find herself alone on “Six South” the sixth tier of the largest steel block in the world, with only a short stick at her side.    

“I used to have a lot of problems with Six South. When I started they were in their cells, nude. They asked me if it bothered me, I said “It is your house. You can be like you want to be. If you don’t have any pride in yourself to stand in front of an of an officer, male or female…” 

“Now, I can go up there and they have something on – a towel. They act like men and I treat them like men. I go up to count my range in the evening and someone will say, ‘Shoulders is the range, cover up!’” 

Mary Shoulders said the men have “tested” her reactions, challenged whether she would report infractions of rules.  

“There are a couple guys here I am leery about. They are not all there, upstairs. They need to be in a mental hospital,” suggested Mary.  

“But a lot of the inmates say, ‘You have any problems, you let us know and we will talk to them.’ The older ones keep the new ones in hand they say, “She needs a job just like anyone else needs a job.” 

Some of the inmates presented Mother’s Day cards to Mary. “Many of them have not heard from home in years or had a visitor in nine or 10 months. I will stop and say a few words to them. Many of them respect me more than they do their own parents,” she said.  

Rita Shoulders admitted she’s heard a few new “cuss words” at OSR. “I just ignore them – walk away. If you go back and tell them, it could get worse.”  

Rita insists she isn’t worried about being assaulted in some dark corner inside the walls. “They are no worse here than on the streets,” she explained.  

She pointed out that many of the inmates treat her like a sister, confiding in her, asking her for advice. Some want her as a pen pal, to write the letters wives and mothers no longer write.  

“They are sad and it gets to you,” she said. “They have families who don’t bother to come and see them. When they go before the parole board, that goes hard on them. They say, ‘If your family doesn’t want you, you might as well stay here.’” 

“I think the inmates have more respect for us because we are women. I haven’t had any trouble from them,” concluded Rita.  

Her supervisor Kirkendall, a veteran of 20 years at OSR, admits that despite his objections to Rita’s presence: “I give her a hell of a lot of credit that she has the courage behind the walls. It may work out. She is determined and that means an awful lot.  

Capt. Douglas Sackman, one of the several men who interviewed the women applicants, explained that the original plan behind hiring women was “to free men”  

“But Mr. Gray (OSR Superintendent Frank Gray) said they are no different from a (male) correctional officer and he is right.” Sackman implies, however, that “some officers” and “some inmates” are not exactly rolling out a red carpet for the two women officers.  

“There are certain areas I wouldn’t have them working in – like the showers on Saturdays,” said Sackman. “I’m not particularly excited about them working in the (cell) blocks either but they do. 

“I think some officers are apprehensive about incidents where they could get jumped by some inmates. They don’t know if Officer Shoulders would come to their aid. You assume a man will.”   

Superintendent Gray said OSR has other women, hired before he arrived, who are classified as “correctional officers.” He has asked that they be reprocessed through the training program so that as “correctional officers” they perform all the duties stipulated in the job classification.  

“When they hire in to do correctional officer work and get that pay. They should be willing to do the work,” said Gray. “My feeling is that you are discriminating to put them on pedestals.”  

Gray is not opposed to hiring more women officers, providing “qualified candidates are willing to do the work and we do not have difficulty with this.”  

“On the other hand,” he added, “this is a new concept at this institution.”  




Mary Loyd

Ohio State Reformatory Has First Woman Teacher

By: Jim Brewer

Mansfield News-Journal January 16th, 1972

After just two class sessions in her new position, Mary Loyd, the first woman instructor at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, wasn’t ready to classify her feelings about the unique, challenging experience.

“But I’m tremendously excited about the opportunity, as a woman, to influence the lives of these troubled young men.” Mrs. Loyd, full time Ashland College English instructor, said

Mrs. Loyd is the first woman of a series of instructors from the college to teach at the Reformatory. This program, headed by Arthur B. Gorsuch, the dean of special studies, has been going on for seven years, during which about 15 male instructors have taught at the Reformatory. 

“I feel I have responsibility towards other women in this job.” Mrs. Loyd said. “If I fail, it will be hard for another woman to get the opportunity.”

“But the challenge isn’t just in proving a woman can teach in a situation like this,” the meek mother of two, continued. 

“My goal at the Reformatory will be to help these men find a place in a society that is critical to them, and a society these men are often critical toward.”

Mrs. Loyd is teaching a college level American Literature at the Reformatory. On her first day of class there she asked the men, who range in age from 20 to 26, what books they would like to study. 

“Since the majority of the students were blacks,” Mrs. Loyd explained, “they quickly chose Eldrige Cleaver, James Baldwin and other Black writers. 

“I expected this, but I emphasized to them that we have to study the history of American Literature first so they could understand Cleaver’s ‘Soul on Ice’ and similar works in perspective,” she added. 

She described her students as eager and responsive. She told them to be themselves in class, to be open and understanding. Her class, and other college level courses offered at the Reformatory are transferable as college credit to other colleges and universities. 

Besides her Reformatory class, Mrs. Loyd teaches four freshman English courses at Ashland College. She remarked that she would have a lot of papers to grade this semester. Her college classes are scheduled on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while her class at the Reformatory is on Tuesday and Thursday. 

She lives with her husband, Dr. David Loyd, the Director of the Division of Economics and Business Administration at the college, in Ashland, her life long home. 

She earned a Bachelors of Arts in English at Ashland College in 1940, and after many years of teaching High School in the Ashland and Mapleton school districts, attended Wooster College where she received a Masters of Arts in Teaching in 1969. 

Since then she has taught at the North Central Ohio Technical Institution, and the college. She has two children, a son who is attending the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a daughter, a Fine Arts student at New York University. 


News Article From 1993- “Roll ‘Em! Inmates fix OSR for Hollywood film”

Roll ‘em! Inmates fix OSR for Hollywood film

By: Lou Whitmire

MANSFIELD— Anthony Abott will be scraping paint for about 30 days inside the west cell block at the Ohio State Reformatory. 

He’s not being punished for bad behavior. He and 40 other honor inmates have been assigned to the old prison for the upcoming filming of a Hollywood movie. 

The honor inmate Tuesday worked along the cell range on the third floor of the dilapidated prison scraping large flakes of paint left dangling from the white and yellow walls. 

“My regular (prison) job as a mechanic is a lot easier,” he said with a laugh. 

Honor inmates are readying the buildings in the prison, one of Mansfield’s most significant historic structures, for Castle Rock Pictures to begin filming “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” on June 16th. 

Richard Hall, a spokesman at Mansfield Correctional Institution (MANCI), said filmmakers will hire contractors to paint the nearly 100-year-old prison. 

The abandoned prison, which opened in 1896, served as a prison for nearly 95 years. It closed in 1990 when Mansfield Correctional Institution opened. 

Heat to the facility was turned off when it closed, causing the aging facility to decay further as a result of dampness. 

“If we had left the heat on it would cost $170,000 a month to run the power plant to heat this place,” said Hall, as he watched inmates scraping paint from the ceiling of a room that formally served as a chapel. 

In some parts of the old prison ice and water could be found on the floors while steam sifted through cracks in the walls in other areas from heaters being run around the clock in an effort to dry the facility.

Inmates will be staying at the ghost-like facility overnight to monitor the heaters, Hall added.

“The film people have said they will use the library, the day room, and the gymnasium,” he said, noting the former warden’s office in the administrative offices will be used as the warden’s office in the film.  


February 2024 Restoration Progress

5 Rooms in the Wardens living quarters have been slated to be turned into escape rooms. Historically, these rooms were used as part of the Dignitaries Quarters for administration at the Reformatory. As the Superintendent of a prison, you were expected to entertain certain guests throughout the year. Whether it be a political figure on the state or federal level, Wardens and Staff from other prisons, or maybe just family visiting from out of state, they would have stayed in one of those rooms. 

Each room has to have extensive demo work done to accommodate for 5 themed rooms. This consists of tearing down the old plaster and refinishing the walls and ceilings. Some of the rooms even received new sub-flooring to go along with the different themes. Brand new electrical work has also been done for special effects purposes. 

Other rooms on the third floor will have full enclosures within the room to capture the full experience of the game. Each room will be run by a control room that has also been remodeled. The hallway of these rooms will also be refinished and a brand new exhibit will be placed in the area. Now we don’t want to spoil too much of the escape rooms before release, but we hope you enjoyed a sneak peek of what’s to come.  

News Article From 1969- “OSR Chief ‘Keeps His Cool’ In Toughest Test”

This article was found on and comes from the April 30th, 1969 edition of the Mansfield News-Journal.

Content Warning:

This material contains images of firearms, which some readers may find distressing. Reader discretion is advised.

As events at the Ohio State Reformatory developed over the last three days Supt. Bennett J. Cooper has undergone one of the toughest tests of his career in penology. 

Monday’s work stoppage by correction officers was the first in the history of the Mansfield prison and created a difficult, and possibly dangerous situation. 

Since that time Cooper’s main thoughts have been with the 2,300 inmates he is responsible for. 

With the 200-member union on strike only about half the usual 125 correction officers showed up for work on the first shift yesterday morning.

The National Guard was summoned to Mansfield to stand by in case it was needed and the state highway patrolmen frequently cruised by the prison.

Throughout this Cooper remained calm and deliberate. 

A native of Cleveland, he holds bachelor’s and masters degrees in psychology from Case Western Reserve University, and has completed work on his doctorate there. 

He has been at OSR since 1957. He started as director of psychological services and advanced to superintendent in November, 1966. 

Cooper, who would not look out of place as a member of the Cleveland Browns’ front four, is a quiet, thoughtful administrator. 

Cooper, discussed today what recent events at OSR have been like. 

April 30 had officially been designated as “S-Day” by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees.

When local 1741 launched its “sick-call”Monday night, Cooper was ready. 

Sources have indicated that the Manfield facility had been stocking food and supplies for some time. 

As to the specific hour when the strike hit, Cooper said, “We got the word at about 9pm that the Ohio Penitentiary had voted for a walkout at midnight. We then anticipated something would happen here.”

“Some people began calling in sick, Some didn’t call, but never showed up.” 

Pickets appeared at the prison at 10:20pm Monday. They informed their co-workers that “S-Day” was in effect. 

“Only eight men and a supervisor came in on third shift. We therefore held the second trick over. 

“We released these men in the morning and called in all the supervisors at 6am.”

Throughout all this Cooper was in constant touch with the Division of Correction in Columbus. By 8am officials there had ordered the National Guard to Mansfield. 

Cooper, constantly interrupted by telephone calls during the interview, stressed his desire of keeping the inmates locked up as little as possible. 

The prisoners were fed in smaller groups than usual and more slowly. One cell block saw a movie yesterday afternoon. Another group saw one last night.

Cooper addressed himself to the problem of low wages for guards — the reason for the strike.  

“I have always said I feel the employees here are underpaid — especially the correction officers. For the hazards and nature of their work they certainly deserve higher pay . . . and officials in the Division of Correction including Director Martin Janis have gone on record supporting such action.” 

Hesitating to discuss how recent events have affected him personally Cooper said “I want no sympathy – I just want to get this thing settled.” 


Bennett J. Cooper

Bennett Cooper was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1921. A few years later the Cooper family moved to Oklahoma, and then to New Orleans where Cooper studied at Xavier University. During his years in Louisiana, Cooper was drafted into the U.S. military and proudly served his country during World War II. 

 After returning from the Pacific Theater, Cooper moved his small family back to Cleveland, Ohio where he started his career with the Cleveland Postal Service. While raising his family and working, Cooper graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a Bachelors, and Masters degree in Psychology. 

After 10 years of service with the Cleveland Postal Service, 1957 brought change to Cooper’s life as he started his career within the Ohio Prison System when he was hired at The Ohio State Reformatory as Director of Psychological Services. Cooper would not stop there. In 1963 he was promoted to Associate Superintendent of Treatment.

In 1966, Cooper was appointed to the position of Warden by Governor James Rhodes, making him the first African American Warden, and the highest ranking African American prison official in the entire United States. 

Cooper served as the Warden of OSR until 1970. In 1970 he would yet again make history as the highest ranking African American prison official, when he was appointed to head Ohio’s entire prison system as Commissioner of the Division of Corrections, and Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene and Corrections. 

Cooper passed away in 2013 and there is so much more to be said,  but his legacy continues as a founder of the National Association of Blacks & Criminal Justice and a pioneer for African Americans, working within the penal systems of the United States. 


The Story Behind The Artifact

This news clipping was found on and comes from the October 10th, 1970 edition of the Mansfield-News Journal.

This copper ship was made for former Warden Bennett Cooper in 1970. It used to hang in the administration area of the Reformatory, but due to restoration it was taken down and put into OSR’s archive storage. About 10 years ago, a member of OSR’s maintenance crew was asked about a ship that they made for an administrator years ago. Our team member knew exactly what he was talking about. He went to the archive storage to dig it out, then sent for the family. When they all gathered in the archive room and our team uncovered it, the man broke down and cried. He then said, “It was one of the good things to come out of OSR for him” before the prison was transitioned into a penitentiary. Due to constant renovation and restoration, maintenance restored and cleaned the artifact 3 times before it was finally put back on display in the Reformatory’s administrative wings.

Gates Brown- An Inmate Success Story


Gates Brown was born in Crestline, Ohio in 1939. A star athlete for Crestline High School, Gates unfortunately found himself with “the wrong crowd”, and he spent some of his youth at the Boys Industrial School in Lancaster, Ohio. 

Brown would later find himself at the young age of 18, sentenced to 2 years at the Ohio State Reformatory for breaking & entering.  While imprisoned at the Reformatory, Brown played on the prison’s baseball team and his talent caught the attention of inmates and guards alike. It has been said that the other inmates didn’t like playing with Brown; because no matter what they threw his way he would hit the ball over the 25FT prison wall, and the guards couldn’t be bothered to go retrieve it. 

The coach of the OSR’s baseball team would then go on to contact major league baseball scouts to come watch Brown, and as a result, he would be paroled early to go play for the Detroit Tigers. 

Brown had a long and successful career in major league baseball, and we could spend hours and pages talking about his stats throughout the years. But one of his most notable achievements came in 1968  when the Detroit Tigers won the World Series Championship and the American League Pennant. 

Just like Bennett Cooper, much more can be said about Gates Brown. Unless speaking of Andy Dufresne, people don’t usually see redemption & success when it comes to life behind bars. But Gates Brown is one success story we are proud to share as a part of the history of the Ohio State Reformatory. 


Restoration Updates – January 2024

Restoring Original Woodwork in the Administrative Areas


Our restoration team at the Ohio State Reformatory is always hard at work restoring areas of the quarter-million-square-foot structure. Restoring the original woodwork in the Administrative areas involves carefully removing the old varnish from all trim and wood surfaces with specialty scraping tools. These pieces are then sanded smooth and cleaned before a new layer of two-toned stain is applied. The pieces are then sealed with a polyurethane that keeps the wood stain preserved. Our restoration team does their best to keep all woodwork original, but sometimes it is necessary to replace broken pieces. When pieces need to be replaced, the restoration team will custom-mill them to match the originals.


This area of the building was originally used for the Reformatory chaplain’s living space. The chaplain had bedrooms, living space, and a kitchen and dining space on the second floor of administration. Parts of The Shawshank Redemption were also filmed in this area, including the parole board room scenes. This area has recently been reopened after restoration and is now also home to the Frank and Rae Darabont Gallery. It features pieces of movie memorabilia from The Shawshank Redemption.


Sometimes our restoration team encounters additional challenges when restoring these spaces. In the east hallway of the second-floor administration, one of the windows became severely damaged over the years. The team had to remove the framework of the window in its entirety. Thankfully, they were able to save some of the original trim, and expertly rebuilt it. The entire hallway was completed at the end of 2021.


From the Dayton Daily News Sunday, June 8th, 1930

Article found on

Content Warning:

This material contains references to violence, which some readers may find distressing. Reader discretion is advised.



City and County Officers Called on For Help At State Prison


More Than 3200 Men and Boys Are Now Confined at Institution

MANSFIELD, June 7— A large force of Mansfield police and deputy sheriffs armed with machine and riot guns were stationed about the walls of the Mansfield reformatory tonight in preparation for a scheduled appearance of gangsters in a purported delivery plot.
Machine guns were trained upon the gates of the institution which recently received 266 penitentiary convicts following the Columbus prison fire of April 21.
T. C Jenkins issued an appeal for local authorities after receiving a tip that gangsters were planning a delivery after midnight. Jenkins employed 25 extra guards to augment the regular force of 60. With police reinforcements the forces were increased to more than 100.
The reformatory was the scene of a minor disturbance several weeks ago when Gov. Cooper visited the institution in company with his penal commission. At this time, guards were sent into one cell block when the transferred convicts hurled catcalls and threats at the gubernatorial party.
Today’s enrollment at the prison numbered 3217 men, the majority of whom are youths and minor offenders.