Tough Justice

Did you know?

Located in Ashburn, next to the Turner County Courthouse is what once was the “Crime and Punishment Museum.”  Although it is still that today, it is closed (we will get to why later).  Along with that, the building was glorified to us as “the most haunted jail in Georgia”.  Could that really be true? We’ll explore and let you decide.  First, we must share the true history.

Built in 1906, the Crime and Punishment Museum was actually an active jail that served its purpose all the way up until 1993.  At any given time during its heyday, up to 40 inmates would be housed on the second floor of the building.  (There were no showers, so they had to wash in sinks).  Along with holding cells, the upstairs is also equipped with a hanging gallows, trap door and all.  If you’re wondering, yes, at least two inmates served their final punishment there.

According to the Albany Herald, during its time as a jail, 11 Sheriffs, along with their family, lived in the downstairs portion of the building.  This means that day and night, the family living there was only separated by a floor from the inmates.  Could you imagine the sounds you’d have to put up with at night?

The final Sheriff to live in the brick, almost gothic style building was Lamar Whiddon, his legend is that he was a tough one.  In 1993, there was a riot from the inmates upstairs where they broke a pipe line that backed up the toilets and waste began to overflow.  Whiddon did not even attempt to get it cleaned and “boarded” the jail up.  It’s said he left the inmates to suffer in their “own hell they cause.” (We don’t know the accuracy of exactly what he did, as we’ve been told different stories, but he did leave them there.)

After a week, the “State Police” came to the jail, found out about what happened and shut the place down.  Whether Sheriff Whiddon was punished for this is not known to us.  What is known is that construction on a new county jail was to be completed by 1994 and that is likely the main contributing factor as to why the original jail was shut down.

The Sheriff’s living area downstairs was turned into a museum in 2002.  It is equipped with a ball and chain, an electric chair for display purposes (it wasn’t used in the jail), a miniature courtroom and even a “Last Meal Cafe” where you could order famous inmates’ last request from around the world at one time.  At one time, it was a very unique place.

So what about its “haunted” claims?  This place was actually open at night (for a fee) for paranormal investigators to come and witness its strange phenomena.  Whispers, Doors shutting and even the sounds of gallows opening were reported.  One of us, at Middle Georgia Haunted History actually heard this sound many years ago one night while visiting it.  Although that’s all, or course, legend, it should be noted (for what it’s worth) that Miles Cribbs is the most famous inmate to be hanged here, it occurred in 1914.  His blood stained collar is on display in the building.

Sadly, due to water damage to the wooden floors on the first level, along with a hefty cost to fix them, the building is now closed to the public (as we’ve been told).  We were offered to go there and tour upstairs, but we declined.  This old jail is on the National Register of Historic Places and is still closed with lack of funds.  We indeed want to do a fundraiser for this building eventually.  This situation is a shining example of why we started our group.  To help save and preserve places like this. In the months to come, we’ll try to reach back out to the chamber of commerce and see how we can help.  (We need more successful fundraisers before we attempt a big one like that).  It would have to be something we set up in the future.

Hey!  We hope you enjoyed this location and its story.  Remember, some of its history is oral and it was stitched together to us.  We did our very best to verify everything we wrote here.  Although we can’t help right away, we invite you to contact the Ashburn Chamber of Commerce and see how you can help restore this building at would be a perfect opportunity for all the paranormal groups that follow this page to take action and see how you can help.

Courtesy of


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