1. What inspired you to write a book, bout a prison?
Well, I used a lot of traditional sources: official reports, grand jury investigations, etc. These were great sources for the administrators’ version of the prison’s history, but records were also very “sterile;” what I wanted was a human perspective as well as an institutional one. Unfortunately, few records created by the penitentiary’s inmates have survived, particularly for the nineteenth-century. I overcame that by culling hundreds of stories about ESP from local, regional, and national newspapers and by using hundreds of pages of oral histories contained in the penitentiary’s archives.
5. Were you spooked spending time at the prison?
6. Did anyone famous serve time there?
7. Have any prisoners successfully escaped?
8. What do you think is the answer for America being the incarceration capital of the world?
9. Do you have any family or friends that worked in law enforcement or were in prison?
10. As a historian, what draws you to studying one thing over another?