1. Garry Benford

    I remember competing in powerlifting competitions there while in college in the 70’s organized by Leo Nobile. The meet was called the West Penn Open and lifters came from all over to compete with the inmates. The inmates were all respectful and cordial with us wanting to talk about training and how to improve their lifts.
    I can also vividly remember the sounds of the steel bars closing on the doors entering the prison as we checked in for the day. It certainly made me appreciate my freedom.

  2. Mike Knezovich

    The Sam Abbotts Softball team from Brighton Road played a three game series vs. the inmates in the early 80’s. Even though the players were cordial, it was a very intimidating experience. “F’ing freeboys” was yelled at us as we entered the yard. We were called names as we played. But it was a very valuable experience for all of us young men: do not do anything that will even remotely give you the chance to end-up in there! Thank you for this great article!

  3. Maryjane Grimm

    I feel we have done this establishment a dishonor. I am a criminologist and the prisons are much of what drives me to do what I do. I wish there was a way for Pittsburgh to save what is left of West Penn. East Penn has many options to keep it preserved.

  4. Charles Guidi-Poole

    The man who murdered my Great Grandmother was an inmate there. He died in that prison and I hope his stay was miserable! I would hope the city does preserve the prison though, what a piece of history!

  5. timothy d riley

    I played Football for The Carrick Merchants Semi pro team in the late 70’s and we played against these guys. Tough Bunch. The out of bounds line was 2 feet from the wall. Wild experience.

  6. Mike O'Toole

    My Father, Mike O’Toole, played football against the inmates in the late 1930’s and my Brother, Kevin, played against the ‘Stealers’ in 1980. I was a Corrections Officer there for 28 years, starting in 1978. Their football equipment was donated to them by the Pgh. Steelers, through Activities Director and former Steeler, Leo Noblie. The inmates had a lot of talented and athletic players, they had a lot of time and dedication to train for football, but I didn’t see them playing as a team. One very talented running back for the Stealers went by the handle, “Bad News”. Most were looking for individual glory and status. SCIP hosted a Prison Sport’s banquet every year, and local sports figures, news members, and some local politicians would attend. Some of the inmates might have had promising opportunities in sports, art, writing or other careers, but made horrible choices in their lives, mostly drug related….. One of the biggest activity that I remember there is when Sister Sledge preformed in the Prison auditorium in 1979, a year that the Pirates won the series…..”We are Family”, was a huge hit at the prison on that day. I wonder if the PG has any photos of that concert?

  7. CL

    Too interesting of a part of history to be lost!
    Does anyone know if they do any type of tours of this prison?
    I’ve been to Eastern and Moundsville and would love to see the prison preserved and utilized in a similar fashion.

  8. Lee Hunter

    My father, George D. Delich, was the Coach and Athletic Trainer of the W.S.P. Heavyweight Football Team from 1939-1941. (He played tackle for PITT’s Jock Sutherland from 1934-1938, winning the Rose Bowl in 1937). The W.S.P.s played 10 games against outside teams, some of them named Brownbombers, Century Club, Garfield Eagles, etc. I have a publication called The Keystone January 1940, produced by the inmates of the Educational Department that describes the prison activities and events. Stanley P. Ashe was the Warden and the prison had a Board of Trustees. One Board member, John H. Harris, President of the Variety Clubs of America, likely sponsored entertainers for the annual Christmas Show. The annual Inmate Minstrel Show featured an orchestra, choristers, and numerous acts. I would love to see more editions of The Keystone from that time period but have been unable to find any. If anyone has other information about my father, I’d love to hear it!

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