As the only maximum-security prison in the state, the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP) has housed some of the most violent criminals on the West Coast, including brutal serial killers Charley Panzram in 1915 and Jerry Brudos in 1969. Sixty men have been executed inside OSP. The prison was originally built in Portland in 1851 but moved to Salem 15 years later, after Oregon became a state. From that time forward, the Oregon State Penitentiary grew from 23 prisoners in 1866 to 1,912 by 1992. The penitentiary suffered several serious fires and riots. On March 9, 1968, the most expensive riot ever experienced in the United States flared inside the walls, causing over $2.5 million in damages. Numerous escapes plagued the prison until 1970, when security measures were tightened. The most famous escape involved Harry Tracy and David Merrill in 1902.
About the Author
Diane L. Goeres-Gardner is a retired educator turned historian. This is her third Arcadia book and sixth published book about Oregon history. John Ritter worked in the Oregon State Penitentiary for 30 years, retiring in 2005. He is an adjunct professor of history at both Linfield College and Corban University. Both authors have used their extensive skills and experience to bring the reader many interesting details from inside the walls of OSP.