Sometime around 5:30 AM on Saturday, June 6, 2015, David Sweat and Richard Matt- both convicted killers in the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY- were discovered missing from their prison cells. Matt was shot and killed by U.S. Border Patrol tactical unit in Malone, NY on June 26, 2015. Sweat was shot but survived and was taken into custody June 28, 2015. The news media declared it the Shawshank Redemption escape in reference to Andy Dufrense’s escape from the fictional Shawshank prison. And then there are the newspaper headlines:
- “A sensational ‘Shawshank Redemption’-style prison break,” – The New York Daily News
- “Daring ‘Shawshank Redemption’-style escape,” – The New York Post
- “How real-life prison escape compares with ‘Shawshank.’” – the Associated Press. ABC News has also done a similar story.
Tim Robbins was on Conan the following Monday night to promote his HBO series The Brink. I don’t know when he was booked to be a guest but usually those bookings are made a few weeks in advance of the scheduled appearance. So it was probably luck for Conan O’Brien to get the star of The Shawshank Redemption on his show only days after the real-life prison escape in upstate New York:
If it had not been for that prison break, this posting would probably start here noting that while the Shawshank Prison is fictional, the prison that “played” the role of the Shawshank prison is in Mansfield, Ohio. Known as the old Ohio State Reformatory, it opened its doors to its first 150 inmates in 1896 and closed on December 31, 1990 when the last of the prisoners were moved to the nearby Mansfield Correctional Institute.
Tours of the old prison can be taken April 1 – September 1. The only days it’s closed are the holidays (Easter, Memorial Day, and July 4th). The only guided tours are available on Sundays and the Reformatory hours are 11 AM – 4 PM daily. The are four different guided tours one can take on a Sunday.
- The Hollywood Tour
- West Tower Tour
- East Cell Block Tour
- Behind the Scenes Tour
Or, if you want to see the prison at your own pace, self-guided tours are an option every day of the week.
In downtown Mansfield are a couple of other stops on the Shawshank Tour:
Just outside of Mansfield in Southeastern Richland County is the village of Lucas and home to the Oak Tree from the Shawshank Redemption.
The Ohio State Reformatory
100 Reformatory Road
Mansfield, Ohio 44905
Hours: 11 AM – 4 PM Daily from April 1 to September 1; closed the rest of the year except for special events
Admission: Self-Guided Tours: General Admission – $9.00; Students (Ages 7-17); Seniors (Age 60+), College ID, and Military – $7.00. Audio wand – $5.00 per wand
Admission: Guided Tours (Sundays only): General Admission – $14.00; Students (Ages 7-17); Seniors (Age 60+), College ID, and Military – $12.00. Same-day discount: if you take more than 1 guided tour, every tour after the first one is $7.00 each on that day.
Distances from Ohio cities:
- 76 miles northeast of Columbus
- 190 miles northeast of Cincinnati
- 80 miles southwest of Cleveland
- 106 miles southeast of Toledo
- 67 miles west-southwest of Akron
The Shawshank Trail takes you on a tour of 14 sites across Northern Ohio where the Shawshank Redemption was filmed.