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Controversial Prison Gets Ready for Democratic Convention

  • VOA News

FILE - Holmesburg Prison, in the northeast section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is shown in this aerial view from 1970. City officials said, June 22, 2016, the prison will be used if needed to hold protesters who are arrested during the Democratic Convention next month.

FILE - Holmesburg Prison, in the northeast section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is shown in this aerial view from 1970. City officials said, June 22, 2016, the prison will be used if needed to hold protesters who are arrested during the Democratic Convention next month.

A 120 year old prison with a controversial history in the Northeastern U.S. city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is being prepared to hold protesters who are arrested during the Democratic Convention next month.

Holmesburg Prison, which was closed in 1995, used inmates in the 1960s as test subjects for biochemical and other research projects. By the mid-1970s, research in Holmesburg and other U.S. prisons declined sharply as federal regulations to protect human subjects of research were established.

City officials say the prison will be used if needed to hold protesters who are arrested. They will be placed in the prison's newly renovated gymnasium, not the old cell blocks where horror movies have been filmed. The gym has 100 beds, showers and air conditioning.

City officials do not anticipate large numbers of arrests at the July 25-28 convention. Thirteen demonstration permits have been issued so far and more than 50,000 demonstrators are expected to attend.

To avoid mass arrests, the city council approved a bill last week to decrimininalize certain "nuisance crimes" such as blocking traffic and disorderly conduct.

Plans by city officials are designed to prevent a repeat of the Republican National Convention in 2000, when police arrested 400 protesters. Several wrongful arrest lawsuits were filed against the city. The lawsuits were settled by an insurance policy.

Some material for this report came from AP.

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