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Tourist Trap: West Virginia Penitentiary, Moundsville

Don’t have a Civil War battlefield, aquarium, or giant ball of string? How about the local lockup? Across the nation, communities have turned some 40 old jails and prisons into tourism sites. At the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, shuttered in 1995 after the state Supreme Court ruled that its 5×7 cells constituted cruel and unusual punishment, visitors are told how overhead fencing protected guards from debris thrown by inmates. Among the most popular events are “Dungeon of Horrors” Halloween tours; you can also stay at the prison overnight.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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