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The rotary jail was a very unusual architectural design. In response to a need for better control over prisoners, 18 of the revolving, escape-proof structures were erected in the United States from 1882 through 1889.
There were problems. There were mechanical difficulties due to the extreme weight of the components. Unwary prisoners lost digits or limbs when carousels were rotated without warning--one lost his life. Because inmates could only be let out of their cells one at a time, some rotary jails were closed as fire hazards. This book describes in detail their construction, operation and eventual demise, as well as some of the colorful inmates that were held in them.