Now, in my view, this is what a prison should look like... The place was built in 1888 but didn't open until twelve years later, (funding issues and bad Wyoming weather) and they closed it down in 1981. Moved everybody to a new prison a mile or two away, one of those cinder block and glass places. The old pen is just a big museum now. Rawlins' only tourist attraction, it would seem.
Wyoming State Penitentiary (WSP for short) always had a reputation as a tough joint, not a place you wanted to do serious time. This is maybe because of lousy heating and atrocious Wyoming winters, but maybe also because of the tough, no BS Wyoming mindset, and things like the "punishment post" in the basement where the incorrigible met the man with the rubber hose.
Postscript: In 1993 , two pals of mine, Sheriff's detectives, went to WSP to interview a serial killer named Billy Ray Ballard. Ballard was a truck driver from Plains, Montana who killed people occasionally as he drove his 18-wheeler across the country, and was doing life for the rape, torture, and murder of two women in Wyoming.
There were a couple of unsolved homicides in the county where I was a cop, and the timeline showed Ballard's truck was passing through at just the right time. More importantly, his fingerprint was lifted off the car of one of the victims, so... Detectives were dispatched to Wyoming to see if they could get Billy Ray to cough to our two unsolveds.
Billy Ray Ballard lifted his head and just looked at him for a few moments. Then, in a kind of a whisper, he croaked, "Wyoming is hard time, man..."