Notorious, iconic Virginia State Penitentiary’s 190-year history revealed in new book

Notorious, iconic Virginia State Penitentiary’s 190-year history revealed in new book

The Richmond prison was built in 1800 and was once called the “most shameful prison in America” by the ACLU.

By Brian McNeill – VCU News Service

A new book by Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus Dale Brumfield reveals the history of the Virginia State Penitentiary, the Richmond prison that was built in 1800 and that the ACLU at one time called the “most shameful prison in America.”

Virginia State Penitentiary: A Notorious History” is the latest book by Brumfield, who earned a B.F.A. in painting from VCU’s School of the Arts in 1981 and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from VCU’s Department of English in the College of Humanities and Sciences in 2015.

Brumfield is the field director for Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, as well as a digital archaeologist and the author of eight books, including two histories of the underground press — “Richmond Independent Press” and “Independent Press in D.C. and Virginia: An Underground History.”

He will give a reading and sign copies of “Virginia State Penitentiary: A Notorious History” on Sunday, Oct. 29, from 4–6 p.m. at Babe’s of Carytown’s back room, 3166 W. Cary St. in Richmond.

Brumfield recently discussed his new book, and explained what made the Virginia State Penitentiary so notorious.

Read McNeill’s Q and A with Brumfield to learn more about the haunting past of this institution.

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