A look inside Arizona's oldest working prison

In 1908 before Arizona was even a state, it started work on a state prison. A dark gray building with high concrete walls surrounding a prison yard became the first prison in Arizona.

- In 1908 before Arizona was even a state, it started work on a state prison. A dark gray building with high concrete walls surrounding a prison yard became the first prison in Arizona.

It's still full of prisoners; it's not only the oldest but ranks among the oldest continuously used buildings period.

"It was built with all inmate labor, we actually had all the inmates come up on a train from Yuma," said Deputy Warden Julie Roberts.

Before Florence, Arizona's prisoners were housed in the Yuma Territorial Prison, they were moved here when this yard was built.

When you go inside and see how the cells were made, that will show you the history as well. Inside it looks like a prison in a movie.

The building isn't the only working antique in the yard; the front gate dates back to the same period.

"They don't make the parts for these gates any longer, so that's how old the gates are," said Roberts.

The AZ DOC had to get a special waiver to keep inmates in the old building because cell size requirements have changed in the last 100 years. But workers say it still works just fine.

"It has a little antique to it, but it still houses inmates and is still going strong, a little piece of Arizona history I guess," said Roberts.


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