Jackson State Prison

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

What’s one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of the city of Jackson?

For many, the answer might well be "The Prison."

We even call it “Jackson Prison”, although its official name is the State Prison of Southern Michigan.

Recently on Stateside we told you about the opening of a new museum right at the prison: the Cell Block 7 Prison Museum gives you a chance to explore a prison block with five-floors and 515 cells. 

It hasn’t housed prisoners for seven years, but you will get a real feel for life inside, and for the history of the Southern Michigan Prison.

We wondered how this all strikes the people of Jackson.

Is playing host to a huge prison something they shun or own?

The Mayor of Jackson, Jason Smith, joined Stateside to answer the question.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's been known for decades as the world's largest walled prison - the State Prison of Southern Michigan in Jackson.

Now some of the very colorful stories from that prison and from Jackson are told in the new Cell Block 7 Prison Museum. It's a joint venture of the Ella Sharp Museum and the Michigan Department of Corrections.

The museum is renting part of cell block seven, which still houses inmates.

MLive’s Leanne Smith said the museum covers the history of the prison, the inmates, wardens, and guards since 1838.

“It is an actual cell block,” Smith said. “You walk in and there is no doubt as to where you are.”

*Listen to full interview above. 

Donald Harrison / Flickr

Jackson, Michigan was home to one of the largest prisons in the world – the Michigan State Prison, later renamed the State Prison of Southern Michigan.

We went on a tour of the old prison with Jackson Historic Prison Tours. While there we met some former prisoners and prison staff, and decided to follow up with them afterwards.

Listen to their powerful stories above.