In 1964, the federal government commissioned a prison capable of holding super-powered inmates in response to the growing number of super-criminals. Blackstone Penitentiary was the first of its kind and remains in operation today.
Formed of dark granite jutting out of the sea, “Blackstone” aptly describes the small, isolated island about a mile and a half beyond Freedom City’s Great Bay. It was a military weapons depot and brig affiliated with Lonely Point during the Second World War, decommissioned by the federal government and later refitted as a super-prison.
Operational as of 1964, Blackstone has become the de-facto prison for many American super-criminals. Blackstone saw many escapes in its early years but fewer after Warden Jerry Kramer accepted Daedalus’ assistance in redesigning the cell blocks in 1966. The Blackstone Riots of 1983 saw the warden and 40 guards killed by inmates trying to escape; only the cool-headedness of a few guards (including then-rookie Joshua Drummer) and the technology of Dr. Abby Wallace kept all the prisoners on the island. The only prisoner casualties of the riot were its instigators—Doc Abattoir and Countess Azure—and the villains Ramrod, Sir Razor, the Wrath, the Silver Satyr, Ms. Malice, and the pyrotechnic triplets Conflagration (all killed by other inmates or by not retreating from energy barriers erected against their escape).
Omega struck Blackstone during the Terminus Invasion, his Omegadrones blasting away the western wall of the complex and unleashing many of the prisoners to sow chaos, or become agents of the Lord of the Terminus. After that, the surface structures of the prison were almost all moved underground.
At first glance, the complex has only two visible buildings: the arrival dock and boathouse and the low structure atop the lonely rock hill, used as a secondary watch post. Below ground, and accessible from either building, is where Blackstone truly begins: a series of corridors and chambers cut from solid rock. Tunnels connect all sites, and a monorail provides personnel with fast transport to all areas of the penitentiary and around the mile-deep central core.
Blackstone has a Command and Control (C&C) room at the heart of the complex, where administrators and senior guards monitor all activities within the prison. There are barracks and personal apartments for staff in the uppermost parts of the complex (within 80 feet of the surface and reachable by stairwells if the prison is not on alert). Fresh air cycles into the prison constantly, and supplies come in by ferry twice a week. A geothermal tap supplies energy for cell integrity, life support, and defenses, with tidal power from the currents around the island covering all other energy needs. Life support, air, and some foodstuffs come from hydroponics bays lining the central core.
Prisoners reside no closer than 150 feet to the surface and the most dangerous are kept in the deepest levels of the complex. All cells are off corridors radiating out from the central core, with six-man guard posts at each end of corridor. At the center of each corridor is a common room where prisoners congregate for up to four hours a day. Unless they have visitors or are paroled, most prisoners do not leave their security corridor.
There are 24 cells along each 200-foot corridor, 12 on each side; between 15 and 20 of these corridors (out of 30) are operational and occupied at any time. For the most dangerous inmates, security reduces the number of cells to eight with 20 guards. All prisoners have cells customized specifically for them, and energy fields permeate the rock walls of the cells, preventing anyone from digging their way out. Artificial diamond-matrix panels seal the front of the cells, allowing full visual contact with prisoners at all times, though they do have some limited privacy by staggering cells entrances across the corridor.
Found in the common rooms and nearly everywhere in the complex are the main defenses of the prison, supplementing any individual defenses placed on any inmate’s cell and controlled from the guard posts, C&C, and by senior Blackstone personnel with special control pads.