What were conditions like at Jonestown?

There are mixed reports about the conditions at Jonestown. Charles Garry, the Temple’s long-time attorney, returned from visiting Jonestown saying he had been to “paradise.” Others who had lived there and fled before 18 November described it as a prison camp. Perhaps it was a bit of both. Although there was no barbed wire around the project, it was located in an isolated part of the world, where all news and information was mediated by Jim Jones and the leadership group. Escape was difficult. Work was hard, and as Jones seemed to grow more paranoid, never-ending. At the same time, however, audiotapes the community made of its own meetings reveal a sense of camaraderie, laughter, good times, and high purpose. Some members who were not in Jonestown on the day of the deaths say it was the best time of their lives. Others are critical of their experience, and claim that they were brainwashed and part of a mind-control experience. For different perspectives of various Temple members on this subject, please see the Personal Reflections page.

Last modified on December 29th, 2013.
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