The History of Alcatraz Research Paper

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Although Alcatraz sits in the center of San Francisco Bay, merely a small over a stat mi from the metropolis, the island seemed every bit distant as if it were a 1000 stat mis out to sea. The island seems uninviting and because of its unappeal, it played an of import function in the history of California. The island had a figure of utilizations. Alcatraz was the site of a powerful fortress, a military prison and a federal prison.

The island is surrounded by unreliable cross currents and five-knot tides with a deathly undertow. The H2O temperature around Alcatraz norms fifty-four grades which is cold plenty to bring on hypothermia. In add-on to the freeze temperature, there are occasional sharks and vortexs strong plenty to submerge a adult male. Although non appealing to a vacationist, the geographics of the country was perfect for a prison as it made escape about impossible ( Redden, 165 ) .

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The California gold haste spurred the edifice of a beacon on the island. Wealth from gold increased San Francisco’s ship traffic and population and a guiding visible radiation was needed to take the ships safely through the bay. In 1850, the armed forces used the island as a defence. Topographic points for cannons and gun arrangements were carved out of the land slopes. More than four 100 soldiers were stationed on the island, guarding it from outside onslaught. The military’s Rodman cannon could hit 15 inch, 440 lb cannon balls every bit far as three stat mis. The military moved off the island when the defence system became out-of-date ( Golden Gate National Park Association, Discover Alcatraz, 2 ) .

During the Civil War, soldiers convicted of abandonment, larceny, colza, slaying and lese majesty were imprisoned on the island. During the Spanish War of 1898 military inmates were housed at that place. Later, groups of Native American militants occupied the island on three different occasions. Their corsets ranged from four hours to 19 months. The Native Americans claimed the island for the? Indians of All Tribes? and offered to purchase the island from the authorities for $ 24 in beads, colored fabric and other goods. Their point in the offer was to purchase the island at the same monetary value Manhattan Island was bought old ages before. During the Great Depression of the 1930? s, The Department of Justice wanted the island for a maximum-security installation. Alcatraz reopened on January 1, 1934 as a federal penitentiary. ( Aureate Gate National Park Association, Discover Alcatraz. 3, 10 ) .

During the 29 twelvemonth history of the prison, 1550 captives were imprisoned. Alcatraz was Uncle Sam’s reply to the most ill-famed public enemies. Ill-famed prisioners like Al? Scarface? Capone, ? Doc? Barker, Alvin? Creepy? Karpis, George? Machine Gun? Kelly, and Robert Stroud? Birdman of Alcatraz? were kept here. Inmates who had proved jobs in other prisons by flight hazards and labeled trouble makers were sent to Alcatraz for security grounds. The cost to the American taxpayer of lodging one inmate was estimated at $ 20,000 a twelvemonth. During the 29 twelvemonth history as a federal penitentiary, there were 14 flight efforts and many deceases. During the flight efforts, seven work forces were shot to decease and six work forces drowned ( Golden Gate National Park Association, Discover Alcatraz, 9 ) ( Redden, 169 ) ( Quillen, 164 ) .

The prison itself was made up of two cell houses with 58 windowless one-person cells per grade and one hundred 74 cells per block. The inmate population ne’er exceeded two hundred 69 captives and merely approximately six to eight new inmates were admitted each twelvemonth. The turnover of prison population was little. Clifford Redden, America’s ill-famed? flash brigand? spent more than twenty old ages in penal establishments, including two stretches of clip at Alcatraz. Redden stated? this mausoleum for the life dead was genuinely a soul-destroying, heart-hardening and sanity-shaking experience for its tough-fibered tenant. ? Alcatraz was a true version of snake pit on Earth. The day-to-day wretchedness made decease expression attractive to some inmates. Upon come ining the prison doors, a physician awaited the incoming inmate. The captive received delousing of caput and public hair, followed by a oral cavity, ear and rectum hunt. After a shower the new inmate was given his prison fatigues and so walked to his prison cell. ? With a clang, the steel gate slammed shut with a sound that seemed to convey conclusiveness to everything that life had to offer. ? All cell bars were made of tool-proof steel and were hacksaw opposition. Every cell contained a metal tabular array fastened to the wall, a cot-sized I

Ron frame bed with a little pull-out beneath, a chunky mattress, pillow, coarse bed sheets, a thin ground forces excess cover, a place less lavatory, a sink with cold running H2O and a Sn imbibing cup ( Redden, 169, 174 ) ( Quillen, 7 ) .

Inmates were awakened at 6:30 ante meridiem After rinsing, dressing and clean uping their cells, they were counted so marched to a twenty-minute breakfast. Some work forces went to work assignments until 11:40. Working in prison industries was considered a privilege. Some possible occupations included woodworking, shoe fix, or working in the baseball mitt mill, laundry room or brush mill. Inmates could gain every bit much as $ 52 a month. Before returning from prison workshops, captives had to go through through a metal sensor. . ? Inmates made? shivs? or narrow blades from brass or plastic which could non be detected by the machine and hence, guards besides searched indiscriminately looking for arms and contraband that slipped past? the mechanical stool pigeon? ( Golden Gate National Park Association, Discover Alcatraz, 12, 13 ) .

Alcatraz inmates were fed better than in most other prisons. Steak was served twice hebdomadally along with adust murphies. Pork chops and milk shakes were served one time a month. The dining hall was one of the most unsafe countries of the prison. Guards were unarmed for fright of a united group onslaught. The dining room had a ceiling of tear gas cylinders. The tear gas could be released by catwalk guards in the event of a muss hall public violence. The dining hall was run purely and the warden made certain the repasts were good prepared. At the terminal of each twenty-minute repast, inmates were to put their forks, spoons and knives on the tabular array so a count could be made of all utensils as these could easy go arms.

After tiffin inmates returned to their cells and were once more counted at midday. They were so allowed to return to their work Stationss until 4:15 p.m. The captives were once more counted, served dinner, so locked in their cells at 4:45 p.m. for the eventide. Lights were out at 9:30 p.m. Thirteen counts were made in every 24 hr period. Inmates were permitted to lavish twice a hebdomad and alteration apparels at that clip. Before come ining the shower inmates were required to go through through an electronic metal-detecting unit ( Redden, 169 ) ( Golden Gate National Park Association, Discover Alcatraz, 10 ) .

Disobeying regulations led to solitary in Block D. Cells figure 9 through 14 in Block? D? were frequently referred to as? the Hole. ? There was no visible radiation and the cell was windowless with solid doors and steel walls. The cell was ever in complete darkness. The lone human contact came when two repasts were served through a slot in the door and when the inmate was led out for a hebdomadal shower. Most inmates spent no more than five yearss in the Hold, but some were confined for months and old ages. During these times particularly, decease looked attractive to inmates due to the day-to-day imposition of psychological anguish. Prisoners in the regular wards sometimes opted for the? back door parole. ? This was achieved by hanging themselves, cut downing their arterias or plunging head-first into infinity from the ward’s third-tier gallery onto the polished floor below. Jim Quillen, prisoner # AZ586 said, ? Nothing could blot out the cognition of what and where you were, or the certainty that this was all that life held for you in the hereafter. Man was ne’er intended to populate as a caged animate being ; I frequently speculated as to whether life was deserving populating under these conditions? ( Golden Gate National Park Association, Escapes, 9 ) .

Less than 10 % of Alcatraz inmates received visits from loved 1s. The bulk of married womans and parents from the East seashore could non confront up to the long thrust by car, nor could they afford the round-trip menu by coach, train, or plane. All inmate visitants were restricted to the partner, blood relation, or the inmate’s lawyer. Visitors faced inmates separated by a two-inch window glass of splinterless glass. Visitors and captives could speak through a telephone and all conversations were monitored ( Redden, 173 ) .

Increased care costs led Attorney Robert F. Kennedy to shut Alcatraz in 1963. Prisoners were transferred to other correctional prisons and Alcatraz was left to deteriorate. Today the island is no longer a out topographic point but a national park, unfastened to anyone who wants to retrace its many old ages of interesting history. Leftovers of each period of history can be seen today. The National Park Service is working to guarantee that these hints are protected and that the island’s many old ages of history are told ( Golden Gate National Park Association, Discover Alcatraz, 12 ) .

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