Free Essay

Alcatraz

In: Other Topics

Submitted By baboz
Words 4140
Pages 17
Alcatraz Island has quite a distinct history. Many people know that Alcatraz served as a federal prison, but most are reluctant to know that this island served as fort. Built before the Civil War, it served two main purposes. First, that it was to guard the San Francisco bay area from enemy ships against a foreign invasion, and second, to hold hostage prisoners of war or POW's as they were called. In this report, I'll show you how this fortress came to be a federal prison, why it is no longer in operation today, and most importantly, to show why it was built in the first place. When the great Gold Rush of 1849 first started, California grew from what would be considered a small, unpopulated state, into what it is now. California is now one of the most populated states and it was mostly the gold rush that brought attention to California. As the government saw all of this happening, they realized that California was much more important than they ever realized. In their realization, they decided that California must be protected. San Francisco has one of the largest bays in all of California, and so this was where enemy countries would most likely to try to invade the country. So this is where Alcatraz was to lie, to serve as a military fort. It was supposed to serve as a secondary base in companionship to another base located on the other side of Golden Gate Bridge. But with severe problems trying to build this other base, Alcatraz was to remain alone. Out in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, the island of Alcatraz is definitely a world unto itself. Isolation is just one of the many constants of island life for any inhabitant on Alcatraz Island. It is the most reoccurring theme in the unfolding history of Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz Island is one of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's most popular destinations, offering a close-up look at a historic and infamous federal prison long off-limits to the public. Visitors to the island can not only explore the remnants of the prison, but learn of the American occupation of 1969 - 1971, early military fortifications and the West Coast's first and oldest operating lighthouse. These structures stand among the island's many natural features - gardens, tidepools, bird nests, and bay views beyond compare. (1) Fortress Alcatraz ran in operation from 1850 - 1933. It served as San Francisco's only major defense. It started off with only eleven cannons, that were transported onto the island in 1854. By the early 1860's, Alcatraz had 111 cannons. Some were enormous, firing a fifteen-inch ball weighing over 450 pounds. Defenses included a row of brick enclosed gun positions called case mates to protect the dock; a fortified gateway or a Sally Port to block the entrance road; and a three-story citadel on top of the island. This served both as an armed barracks and as a last line defense strategy. Even though Alcatraz was built to withstand a foreign invasion, its most important use was during the Civil War, 1861 - 1865. Seeing as it was the only completed fort in the entire bay, it was vital in the protecting from Confederate Raiders. Early in the war, ten thousand rifles were moved to Alcatraz from the State armory, to prevent them from being used by southern sympathizers. The crew of a Confederate privateer were among the first inmates to be held within The Rock. Alcatraz's notoriety as a penitentiary overshadows its earlier, and longer use by the Army. Surprisingly, this small island once was the most powerful fort west of the Mississippi River. There was some limited modernization of the island's defenses after the Civil War. Rifled cannons were mounted. In 1854 some 450 electrically controlled underwater mines were brought to the island to protect the Bay. However, as the ships of potential enemies became more and more powerful, the defenses were increasing! ly obsolete. In 1907 Alcatraz officially ceased being a fortress and became Pacific Branch, U.S. Military Prison. Alcatraz Island's use as a prison began in December 1859 with the arrival of the first permanent garrison. Eleven of these soldiers were confined in the Sally Port basement. The Army recognized that the cold water (53 F) and swift currents surrounding Alcatraz made it an ideal site for a prison, and in 1861 the post was designated as the military prison for the Department of the Pacific - most of the territory west of the Rocky Mountains. The prison population grew during the Civil War with the addition of prisoners from other army posts, the crew of a Confederate privateer, and civilians accused of treason. The Sally Port's basement was filled, then one of the gun rooms, and a wooden stockade was built just to the North of the Sally Port. During the next three decades additional buildings were erected just north of the Sally Port to house up to 150 Army prisoners. These provided hard labor for construction projects both on and off the island. At various times rebellious American Indians were also held on Alcatraz. The largest group was nineteen Hopi, held in 1895. The Spanish-American War of 1898 increased the size of the Army enormously, and the prison population also grew. A prison stockade, known as the Upper Prison was hastily built on the parade ground and by 1902 there were 461 prisoners on the Island. In 1904 the upper prison stockade was expanded to house 300 inmates, and the lower prison buildings near the Sally Port were used for other purposes. With modern weaponry making Alcatraz more and more unsuitable as a site for a fort, in 1907 the Army dropped plans to mount new guns, and instead designated the island Pacific Branch, U.S. Military Prison. The next year, with plentiful prison labor available, work began on the Cellhouse which still stands today. Completed in 1912 with 600 single cells, each with toilet and electricity, the Cellhouse was the largest reinforced concrete building in the world! In 1915 Alcatraz was changed from a military prison to Pacific Branch, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks. The new name reflected the growing emphasis on rehabilitation as well as punishment. Prisoners with less serious offenses could receive training, education and an opportunity to return to the Army. Prisoners convicted of serious crimes were not given these chances, and were discharged from the Army when their sentences were completed. During the great depression of the 1930s military budgets were cut, and the Army was considering closing the Disciplinary Barracks - a perfect match for the Justice Departments desires for a super prison for incorrigible prisoners. Negotiations moved rapidly, and Alcatraz was transferred to the Bureau of Prisons in October 1933. By early 1934 eighty years of the U.S. Army on Alcatraz had ended - except for 32 hard case prisoners, who were left to become the first penitentiary inmates. Some of the inmates included Al Capone and Robert Stroud, also known as the birdman of Alcatraz. Capone's exact cell is not identified because records are not available. Former prisoners and Correctional Officers indicate that Al Capone's cell is located on the outside west end of Cellblock B. Capone spent more time in the hospital than in the general population (GP).Robert Stroud (Birdman of Alcatraz) arrived in 1942, spent some 90 days in the GP. and was then transferred to D Block. Occupying more than one cell over a period of seventeen years, Stroud stayed in D block cell for approximately six years and was then moved up to the hospital in 1948, staying for eleven years, by request of Warden Swope. Many times the prison was almost shut down, but I never thought the government would actually shut this place down. It was the best thing for the country. It lowered crime rates, because it scared the citizens of the U.S. into believing they would go to The Rock if they were even remotely bad. They shut it down, Oh God, they shut it down (2) The prison ran effectively, yet due to cost effectiveness, administrative changes in Washington, a change in BOP's operating philosophy (reinstitution rehabilitation). USPAZ. closed on 21 March 1963 (last prisoners removed on this day); Alcatraz was transferred to the General Services Administration (GSA) in May of 1963. Alcatraz witnessed eight murdered by other inmates (although records indicated only 7), five suicides, and 15 from illness. These were all of the deaths that took place on the island. Some people heard that many prisoners were killed in the gas chamber located on Alcatrz Island, they are wrong. Although Federal courts do impose capital punishments, the reason why there is a gas chamber, but the actual carrying out of that sentence is attended to in the nearest State facility (in this case the death sentence was fulfilled at San Quentin State Prison). Is was rumored that no one ever escaped this island, but that is not exactly the case. Thirty-six prisoners were involved in attempts: 7 shot and killed, 2 drowned, 5 unaccounted for, the rest recaptured. 2 prisoners made it off the island but were returned, one, in 1945 (Giles) and one in 1962 (Scott). As for June 1962 escape, Morris and the Anglin brothers were successful in escaping both institution and island, but survival is very questionable. So to say that no one ever escaped the island, that is not true. But if they survived, we may never know. Some people heard that many prisoners were killed in the gas chamber located on Alcatrz Island, they are wrong. Although Federal courts do impose capital punishments, the actual carrying out of that sentence is attended to in the nearest State facility Which in this case the death sentence would be fulfilled at San Quentin State Prison. There were several families that were housed on the island. The families were distributed in 64 Building, four wood frames houses, one duplex and three apartment buildings. Warden resided in large house adjacent to cell house, Captain and Associated Warden lived in duplex. The question that most people wonder, is how many guards actually upheld the island of Alcatraz, their answer is, 90 officers were required to cover the three 8-hour shifts, plus sick leave and vacation time. Two-thirds of the custody staff resided on the island with the rest in the San Francisco and local areas. The actual amount prisoners that were contained on the island is somewhat vague due to the lack of accurate records. But as far as we know, it is somewhere in the vicinity of 1545 total, with 1576 numbers issued (some 30+ were returned to the institution with same number reissued). The most that was ever held in the prison at one time was 302, and as few as 222, but the typical average was around 260. Born of necessity, perhaps even political expediency, Alcatraz represents the federal government's response to post-Prohibition, post-Depression America. Both the institution and the men confined within its walls are a part of this era, and in order to be studied with any degree of understanding, it must be attended to with a focus on this time period. Prisons are a reflection of society and the reflection offered by Alcatraz is one of great clarity. The collaborative effort of attorney general Homer Cummings and Director of the Bureau of Prisons, Sanford Bates, produced a legendary prison that seemed both necessary and appropriate to the times. The emergence of persistent assertions about J. Edgar Hoover's interest and influence with regard to Alcatraz cannot be corroborated, but neither have they been completely denied. With the public peace constantly threatened by crime, a response had to be made and Alcatraz was that response. An in-house memo issued by Cummings shortly after taking office addressed the subject of creating a special prison for kidnapers, racketeers, and individuals guilty of predatory crimes. A remote site was sought, one that would prohibit constant communication with the outside world by those confined within its walls. Although land in Alaska was being considered, the availability of Alcatraz Island conveniently coincided with the government's perceived need for a super-prison. Having taken possession of the former Army prison and having circumvented the San Francisco citizens who were concerned at the prospect of vicious criminals in the near vicinity, the Bureau of Prisons set about selecting a warden who could do the job. A well-organized, no-nonsense businessman and prison administrator with twelve years of experience in the California Department of Corrections, James A. Johnston was to be that man. Johnston had retired at the time of his appointment by the Department of Justice, and its acceptance resulted in his serving as warden of Alcatraz for the next fourteen years. Classified as a concentration model, where difficult-to-manage prisoners from other institutions would be concentrated under one roof, Alcatraz served as an experiment. Segregation on this scale had not before been practiced, and only time would indicate its success or failure. Warden Johnston and the second Director of the Bureau of Prisons, James V. Bennett, both were men well ahead of their time. Visionaries in the field of penology, their knowledge enabled Alcatraz to function as it had been hoped and to serve later as a model for the federal prison located in Marion, Illinois. Contrary to popular myth, Alcatraz was to confine only a few of the infamous headline-makers of the era. Of the 1545 men to do time within its walls, the vast majority were not to be found on wanted posters adorning post office walls. I was doctor on that hell-hole. I served diligently for the better of three years. I attented to some of the most notorious criminals, and I got to really know them. I found out that they were people just like anyone else, but just with a severe case of bad luck.(3) Alcatraz was, of course, home to Al Capone for slightly under four and a half years. Transferred from USP Atlanta in August of 1934, Capone was among the first official shipment of prisoners to be received. His arrival generated bigger headlines than the opening of the institution, giving birth to the endless myth of Alcatraz. The most difficult aspect of Capone's management in Atlanta was his constant contact with family members who took up residence at a nearby hotel. Through this channel of communication Capone continued to run his organization in Chicago. He also worked at corrupting officers and enlisting fellow prisoners as personal servants. Influence and privilege were lost at Alcatraz where Capone was assigned menial jobs and treated in accordance with others. In failing health due to syphilis, he was transferred to FCI Terminal Island in January of 1939, and then on to USP Lewisburg, released from there in November of that same year. Yes I served on the rock. I was a prison guard for some of the meanest criminals I've ever seen. I still have nightmares today of being there. We were commanded to be cruel. We were taught that the only way we would survive, was to show no fear, or else those criminals would eat you for breakfast. I'll never forget the look on the inmates face as they came onto Alcatraz, the most repulsive look, like they had nothing else to live for. I'll never forget happened there, my dreams won't let me. (4) Arriving on the second official shipment to Alcatraz in September of 1934 was George Machine Gun Kelly. Involved first in bootlegging, he was apprehended and sentenced to Leavenworth. At the conclusion of a three-year stay, Kelly emerged from prison in touch with some of America's best bank robbers, and immediately pursued a new line of work. From lucrative bank jobs, he advanced to kidnaping in 1933, holding for ransom a wealthy Oklahoma oil magnate. His capture resulted in the first Lindbergh Law trial and it was a courtroom sensation. Kelly was given a life sentence and returned to USP Leavenworth, within months being transferred to Alcatraz. He was considered a model prisoner by the officers with whom he came in contact, causing some question regarding his transfer to the more secure institution. Headlines and Hoover must here be considered. After seventeen years on Alcatraz, Kelly suffered a mild heart attack and was returned again to Leavenworth in 1951. Within months of being paroled in 1954, a final attack ended his life at the age of 59. From early days as a petty thief, Alvin Karpis moved on in his career to join Ma Barker and form the Barker-Karpis partnership literally laying waste to the Midwest between 1931 and 1936. His flamboyant style of robbery and kidnaping earned him the absolute wrath of J. Edgar Hoover. Karpis soon found himself with a new title, that of Public Enemy No. 1, and his name was recognized throughout the country, Avoiding capture for some fifteen months after the Barkers were apprehended, Karpis was finally taken into custody in New Orleans on May first, 1936. By August of that year, Karpis was residing on Alcatraz where he would spend the next 26 years, transferred to USP-McNeil Island in April of 1962, and released from the federal prison system via deportation to Canada in 1969. Leaving that country to assume residency in Spain, Karpis committed suicide in 1979. The most complete media coverage to be accorded an Alcatraz inmate was given to Robert Franklin Stroud. He was to gain world wide attention and notoriety as the Birdman of Alcatraz, regardless of the fact he was not permitted to continue his avian studies during his 17 years on the island. Following incarceration in USP McNeil Island, where he was sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter in 1909, Stroud was transferred to Leavenworth after serving only three years. A history of violence dictated the move, and Stroud had been in Leavenworth less than four years when he attacked and killed a custodial officer in front of better than 2,000 other inmates. His trial resulted in the death sentence, but was commuted to life after his mother requested the intervention of President Wilson. Stroud's hostile and sometimes violent nature left prison administrators no choice but to keep him away from other inmates and officers, and prison officials interpreted this to mean he should spend the remainder of his life in segregation of some sort. The keeping of birds and the studying of avian diseases gained international attention for Stroud, but it was also to figure prominently in his ultimate transfer to Alcatraz. He began to openly violate prison rules and regulations in favor of continuing his experiments and communications with bird breeders and fanciers around the world. Stroud was literally packed up and moved out in the middle of the night, with his destination being San Francisco. Arriving on Alcatraz in 1942, he was to enjoy the company of fellow inmates within the confines of D Block until there occurred a change in administration with the retirement of Warden James Johnston and the arrival of Warden Ed Swope. The enigmatic Swope was not to be challenged in any way by Robert Stroud and immediately moved him into a private room in the prison's hospital. Using ill health to justify the move, Swope was able to segregate Stroud in such fashion that few, if any, were ever able to again see him. Genuine ill health forced Stroud's transfer to the Federal Medical Facility in Springfield, Missouri in 1959. Four years after being received at the FMC, Stroud died of natural causes. The man about whom the world knew, the man about whom books were written and films were made was to be ignored in death as the date of his passing followed by one day the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. On the morning of his death, Stroud was found by a fellow inmate who is probably more widely recognized on an international scale than any other confined on Alcatraz - recognized not so much by his own name than by the defendants with whom he was tried in 1951. Charged with conspiracy to commit treason, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed at Sing Sing Prison in 1953, and Morton Sobell was to arrive on Alcatraz the year before, 1952, and would spend the next five years as the federal system's most famous political prisoner. Sobell's case could easily be an example of J. Edgar Hoover's influence. He simply did not fit the type generally selected for incarceration on Alcatraz, but he most assuredly did meet the criteria for the type particularly targeted by the FBI director. At this point, it is again emphasized that the historic era must be given clear and serious focus, as the red witch hunt for Communist subversives spread across the country, led by Joseph McCarthy a! nd J. Edgar Hoover. Sobell alleged that Hoover dictated his placement in this maximum security institution, and there really exists no denial regarding this allegation. Following the five years inside Alcatraz, Sobell finished out the remainder of his sentence in USP Atlanta for a total of eighteen and a half years out of the original thirty set forth by Judge Irving R. Kaufman, Taken by the beauty of the Pacific and the Golden Gate, Sobell expressed a desire to return to San Francisco when freedom was again his to enjoy. Morton Sobellresides today in the city, and is part of the living history of Alcatraz. By 1962 the era on which the Federal Prison history of Alcatraz is predicated was coming to an end. Times were changing and the Bureau of Prisons knew that they would have to respond to that change. Alcatraz offered no concept of rehabilitation, and the bureau was reconsidering its philosophy as it examines the pros and cons of warehousing as opposed to rehabilitation. The physical structures on Alcatraz were indicating wear and tear that would cost the government millions of dollars to upgrade to required security. Always an expensive institution to operate, 1961 found the daily cost of inmate upkeep approaching one-hundred dollars, and an overall cost for continuing operation at better than six-million dollars. A new prison could and would be constructed at Marion, Illinois for ten-million, so to continue incarceration of inmates on Alcatraz was economically unsound. It is said that J. Edgar Hoover expressed displeasure at the closure of the prison, but his decades-long power base could not stand up to the new attorney general who made it quite clear to Hoover that a contrary decision had been made - a decision that would be backed by the attorney general's brother in the White House. On Thursday, 21 March 1963, the end of an era arrived with the offic! ial closure of Alcatraz. The population had been gradually reduced commencing in February, with the final twenty-seven inmates taken off on the aforementioned date. For the first time in its long and controversial history reporters were permitted on the island to cover the news story that would make headlines across the country. ALCATRAZ CLOSES! In looking for lessons to be learned from the operation of Alcatraz, lessons that can be applied to our present society, one can only wonder as we examine overcrowded prisons and the continuing attendant problems. Perhaps consideration should be given to the prophetic words of a long ago Alcatraz prisoner, reflecting upon his plight: Can anything be worth THIS? We can either learn from what valuable lessons that were taught at alcatraz, or we can be ignorant and let it happen again. Alcatraz was considered hostile, cruel, and unjust, and it was. But there was a lesson to be taught, now if we don't learn that human life is the most precious gift that we take for granted, then Alcatraz was a good idea and it needs to be reinstated. But when you allow a man to lose his freedoms that our forefather fought for, with impunity, it is simply the worst thing to happen. Alcatraz was built for a good reason, it served for a good reason. Then it was transformed into The Rock. Al! l the good that went into was lost. We as a country lost sight of what was important to us, and now if we don't learn from it, we are only asking ourselves for it again.

Bibliography

1. The Alcatraz WWW Homepage, Yahoo Search Engine, 1996 2. Professor Clyde W. Richins, University of Michigan, 1990, Vol. 1 of In the life of Alcatraz pages 1944- 46 3. Doctor William M. Hellem, Medical Physician on Alcataz Island, 1983, Vol. 1 of In the life of Alcatraz pages 132-134 4.Lutenient George R. Hendershaw, Guard that seved on Alcatraz Island,

Words: 4111…...

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Alcatraz

...Alcatraz, also known as “the rock”, is an island off the coast of San Francisco. It started out as military base and later on was used as a prison. It held many famous criminals that were usually but not always sent there for misbehaving at the first prison they were sent to. This paper will talk about the prior uses for the island of Alcatraz, the notable people that served their time in the prison, the escape attempts that were made, and what the island is used for today. In 1850 Alcatraz Island was set aside specifically for military purposes. When the American Civil war broke out, cannons were mounted along the perimeter of the island but were only used in defense. Also during this time, the island was used for storage of firearms to prevent them falling into the hands of Confederate sympathizers. Because of the location of the island, Alcatraz was used to house Civil War prisoners beginning in 1861. The Spanish-American war increased the prison population from 26 to over 450 in 1898. Many renovations were to done to the prison over time, to increase the number of people that could be housed there. In 1933 the fortress was deactivated as a military prison, which created the opportunity for the island to become a federal prison. From the 1930’s- 1960's, Alcatraz was America’s leading maximum-security prison, the final stop for the nation's most persistent inmates. Al Capone and Robert Stroud “the Bird Man of Alcatraz” are considered two of the most famous...

Words: 767 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Informative Speech on Alcatraz

...describe to the audience a brief history of Alcatraz. Thesis: Alcatraz has been a popular social topic because of the mystery that surrounds it and the stories exaggerated in movies and television shows. INTRODUCTION I. If you disobey the rules of society, they send you to prison; if you disobey the rules of the prison, they send you to Alcatraz. II. Alcatraz has been a popular social topic because of the mystery that surrounds it and the stories of mistreatment and escape attempts exaggerated in movies and television shows. III. Alcatraz served as the federal government’s response to post-prohibition America. Both the institution and the men confined within its walls are a part of this era. The most famous inmate being, Al Capone and others like George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz”. A. First, I will talk about the penitentiary opening where difficult prisoners from other institutions would be transferred to Alcatraz, also known as “The Rock”. B. Then, I will discuss life on the island and as an inmate in the prison. C. And last, I will discuss the popular culture of Alcatraz; including some failed escape attempts before the closing of the prison. BODY I. First, I will talk about the penitentiary opening where difficult prisoners from other institutions would be transferred to Alcatraz. A. Alcatraz opened in 1934, as a wave of gangsterism and violence was sweeping the country. Alcatraz had served as an army prison in years......

Words: 1091 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Alcatraz

...and it did just that. Alcatraz, or “the Rock” didn’t start off as a high security prison, it actually served as a lighthouse. Alcatraz was built in 1934, and is located in San Francisco California in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. By the time Alcatraz closed in 1963, it had certainly done its job. Government officials needed a prison as tough and as hard as its criminals, and the solution was Alcatraz. Once you were in there was no going out. That’s how it was in Alcatraz. Well, accept for the few brave enough to try and escape. In its twenty nine years, there were 36 escape attempts from Alcatraz. Twenty three were caught, six were shot and killed, and two drowned. Two men, after being caught were later executed in the gas chamber. Officially, no one ever succeeded in escaping from Alcatraz, although five prisoners are listed as missing and presumed drowned. James Borman, Harold Brest, Floyd Hamilton and Fred Hunter managed to take two officers as hostages and make it all the way to the water’s edge before one of the officers was able to make contact and get help. Shots were fired at Borman, Brest and Hamilton who were swimming. Hunter and Brest both surrendered. Borman was hit by gunfire and sank below the waters surface. Hamilton was initially presumed drowned. But two days later, after hiding out in a small shoreline cave, made his way back up to the industries area as if nothing ever happened. Life in Alcatraz wasn’t pretty. The purpose of Alcatraz was to tame the......

Words: 838 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Alcatraz

...Alcatraz Informative Speech Outline General Purpose: To inform the class Specific Purpose: To describe to the audience a brief history of Alcatraz. Thesis: Alcatraz has been a popular social topic because of the mystery that surrounds it and the stories exaggerated in movies and television shows. INTRODUCTION I. If you disobey the rules of society, they send you to prison; if you disobey the rules of the prison, they send you to Alcatraz. II. Alcatraz has been a popular social topic because of the mystery that surrounds it and the stories of mistreatment and escape attempts exaggerated in movies and television shows. III. Alcatraz served as the federal government’s response to post-prohibition America. Both the institution and the men confined within its walls are a part of this era. The most famous inmate being, Al Capone and others like George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz”. A. First, I will talk about the penitentiary opening where difficult prisoners from other institutions would be transferred to Alcatraz, also known as “The Rock”. B. Then, I will discuss life on the island and as an inmate in the prison. C. And last, I will discuss the popular culture of Alcatraz; including some failed escape attempts before the closing of the prison. BODY I. First, I will talk about the penitentiary opening where difficult prisoners from other institutions would be transferred to Alcatraz. A. Alcatraz opened in 1934, as a......

Words: 1092 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Informative Speech Outline on Alcatraz

...* Alcatraz Informative Speech Outline General Purpose: To inform the class Specific Purpose: To describe to the audience a brief history of Alcatraz. Thesis: Alcatraz has been a popular social topic because of the mystery that surrounds it and the stories exaggerated in movies and television shows. INTRODUCTION I. If you disobey the rules of society, they send you to prison; if you disobey the rules of the prison, they send you to Alcatraz. II. Alcatraz has been a popular social topic because of the mystery that surrounds it and the stories of mistreatment and escape attempts exaggerated in movies and television shows. III. Alcatraz served as the federal government’s response to post-prohibition America. Both the institution and the men confined within its walls are a part of this era. The most famous inmate being, Al Capone and others like George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz”. A. First, I will talk about the penitentiary opening where difficult prisoners from other institutions would be transferred to Alcatraz, also known as “The Rock”. B. Then, I will discuss life on the island and as an inmate in the prison. C. And last, I will discuss the popular culture of Alcatraz; including some failed escape attempts before the closing of the prison. BODY I. First, I will talk about the penitentiary opening where difficult prisoners from other institutions would be transferred to Alcatraz. A. Alcatraz opened in 1934, as a......

Words: 1093 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Running

...mistreating the Indigenous people of this land, the Alcatraz occupation in 1969 led by righteous college students, became the longest Indian occupation of federal ground in the history of the United States and a landmark for Indian self-determination. The documentary, Alcatraz is Not an Island, describes the occupation that made Alcatraz a symbol for Indigenous people as motivation to stand up against the cruelty that they have experienced since the arrival of the Europeans. Hence the name of the film, Alcatraz can be seen as an inspiration for Indigenous people rather than an island. The first attempt to occupy Alcatraz took place in 1964 when a group of four Native Americans landed on the island and claimed it for four hours before the coast guard removed them. This became the inspiration for a group of San Francisco State students to attempt an occupation of their own in 1969. When attempting to make it to the island, only one boat agreed to assist the Native American's in their occupation. They were not able to dock on the island, but, Richard Oaks became the leader of the group when he jumped off the boat and swam to the island. After this brief occupation Richard Oaks returned to San Francisco and began to recruit people to join the movement. Oaks went to UCLA where eighty students agreed to join the movement. On November 20, 1969 a group of one-hundred Native Americans set sail from Sausalito and landed on Alcatraz Island, beginning the occupation that would last for...

Words: 698 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Control Unit Prisons

...Mar 2014 Control Unit Prisons Built to house the “worst of the worst” control units and control unit prisons have exploded throughout the system as a means to house, monitor, and control the most violent, rebellious, and unmanageable of prisoners within the system. Or do they? The article “From Alcatraz to Marion to Florence: Control Unit Prisons in the U.S.” paints a striking picture that reveals many of the inhumane practices used in these prisons, which are more often than not used on individuals who are far from the “worst” and also illustrates the bending, reclassification, and creation of rules that make it possible to do so. According to the article prisoners at Marion, Pelican Bay, Lebanon and similar facilities spend as little as an hour outside of their tiny cells (From Alcatraz to Marion to Florence) for exercise, recreation, and shower and then spend the rest of their day in total isolation without any meaningful human contact, often in a completely dark and air deprived cell with a solid steel door and without windows (From Alcatraz to Marion to Florence). What seems incredible is that any attempt at rehabilitation has been replaced with what almost amounts to “torture” practices. Some of these inmates will one day walk amongst us in society and the levels of mental abuse that they have been subjected to will definitely come back to haunt us. It is a known fact as studies have shown that......

Words: 754 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Federal Prisons

...was forced to move prisons because he had a way about him that could convince guards into giving him privileges that one was not suppose to obtain. He was then sent to Alcatraz in California. Alcatraz was a highly secured prison on an island off the coast of California. Workers of Alcatraz stayed on the island with families. Inmates were allowed visitors once a month which only consisted on immediate family members. According to (N.D.) Each cell in B & C block was 5 feet by 9 feet. Cells at Alcatraz had a small sink with cold running water, small sleeping cot, and a toilet. Most men could extend their arms and touch each wall within their cell. The cells in D Block (segregation) were more spacious, but still the least popular. In D-Block, inmates were confined to their cells 24-hours per days, with the exception of one visit per week to the recreation yard, and these visits were alone. (Alcatraz Facts and Figures, para. 1). John Gotti another famous mobster otherwise known as the “god father” was arrested for 13 murders, conspiracy, racketeering obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, tax evasion, and loan sharking. He also was sentenced to life in prison. John Gotti spent his time at Marion Federal Penitentiary. The prison was also classified as a super max prison. Marion Prison was built to replace Alcatraz and is where the worst of the worst are imprisoned. Federal prisons have different levels of security, determining what level an inmate should be retained at depends...

Words: 1167 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Alcatraz

...Alcatraz Part II INTRODUCTION In this paper, I will discuss the key events following the creation of Alcatraz, examining the significant purpose of each incident, and explaining why the establishment of Alcatraz has lead to become such an important American figure in the Criminal Justice world. This paper will also go into more depth of some of America’s well-known gangsters who were held at Alcatraz and their plotted extreme escapes. I will examine each aspect of Alcatraz and try to draw significant conclusions and information from this supermax prison and the famous criminals that served time there. Once Alcatraz had been built, there were many questions about whether or not this prison was able to handle such a significant crowd of elegant prisoners. Many issues had came up for prison officials and the media had given an image to the public that incorporated those issues, causing questioning from the public about whatever was going on in Alcatraz was being deemed constitutional. David Ward, along with Gene Kassebaum in Alcatraz: The gangster years, do a great job in bringing out detailed facts about topics and concerns that was being brought up after the migration of America’s most dangerous criminals into this institution. This paper will look deep into whether or not creating such a commendable prison was worth all the attention from concerned officials and citizens. SUMMARY A theory that I had encountered throughout the second part of this book was how much......

Words: 1239 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Alcatraz

...Meusec English IV 9 February 2015 Alcatraz I. 1775 A. Manuel de Ayala names the island of San Francisco Bay “La Isla de los Alcatracs” meaning island of Pelicans. II. 1848 A. Mexican-American war ended and California became a state. B. Gold was discovered along the American river and the gold rush began III. 1850 A. The Army and Navy built a triangle of defense around the bay to protect it from the gold rush B. They built 111 cannons around the fort i. Weaponary on the island was never fired in purposed to protect the island IV. 1854 A. Alcatraz Lighthouse began service V. 1863 A. J.M. Chapman, Confederate privateer ship, was seized and its crew were arrested and imprisoned on alctraz B. A wooden structure was built to house the prisoners. i. Soon more prisoners were housed a. The structure built was meant to house 500 men VI. 1898 A. Spanish-American War resulted in the prison being overcrowded VII. 1900 A. Upper prison was built on the parade grounds of Alcatraz VIII. 1906 A. Earthquake forced neighboring prisons to transfer inmates to Alcatraz i. Alcatraz became overcrowded so prisoners forced to build new prison IX. 1907 Alcatraz is designated as the “Pacific Branch, U.S. Military Prison” X. 1912 A. New Cellhouse (3rd prison built, and currently still standing), was built by prisoners, and prisoners moved in XI. 1915 A. Alcatraz was renamed “United......

Words: 325 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

History of State and Federal Prisons

...was expanded from their based on the special needs (women and younger offenders) was accepted. May 14, 1930 marked the birth of the Federal Bureau of Prisons which was created by an act of Congress by President Herbert Hoover. The first U.S. Penitentiary was an old military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; this penitentiary began to house prisoners in 1895. The third penitentiary was the first newly constructed federal prison and was opened in 1902 in Atlanta, Georgia. Institutions were being added one by one, but s, and housed just over 13,000 inmates. The now famous federal prison Alcatraz was opened in 1934. Alcatraz was opened against the wishes of the BOP. Bates and his aides in the BOP headquarters viewed Alcatraz as an unnecessary “political stunt”, but J. Edger Hoover of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the attorney general and key congressional officials had Alcatraz created anyways. Since opening in 1930, the BOP has only had seven directors, Sanford Bates (1930-1937) James Bennett (1937-1964) Myrl Alexander (1964-1970) Norman Carlson (1970-1987) J. Michael Quinlan (1987-1993) Kathleen Hawk Sawyer (1993-2003) and Harley Lappin (2003-present). References Foster, B. (2006). Corrections: The fundamentals. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall...

Words: 394 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Alcatraz

...Name: Willie Botkins Period: 1 Date: _5/18/2015 Chapter 26 Study Guide Vocabulary: Define the following. 1. Carrying capacity- when population size has not yet reach the carrying capacity. 2. Density-dependent factor- affect population growth , such as disease, predators, and competition for food 3. Density –independent factor- environmental factors that do not depend on population size such as storms and fires. 4. Exponential growth- which is a pattern of growth in which a population grows faster as it increases 5. Bioremediation- the use of organisms to clean up or break down toxic waste. 6. Deforestation- removing all the trees and plants in a area 7. Pesticide- chemicals applied to farm fields to control weeds and insects and fungi 8. Reclamation- to restore the land to its original form 9. Acid precipitation- forms when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides combine 10. Ozone hole- which is a decrease in the ozone in polar regions 11. Photochemical smog- that’s forms mainly from automobile exhaust in the presence of sunlight 12. Nonpoint source-generates pollution from widespread areas 13. Point source- originate from a single point of origin Questions: Answer the following questions. 14. Identify ways to conserve water. Fix leaky toilets, bathtubs, and faucets 15. Summarize the types and sources of water pollution. Groundwater pollution, ocean pollution 16. Describe some methods of controlling......

Words: 372 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Alcatraz

...would be futile. The name of this prison is Alcatraz, the home of the wicked where it was a curse to be a prisoner and if you made it out alive of this facility, your time spent there will haunt of you for the rest of your days. The island received its name in 1775 when Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala charted the San Francisco Bay, and named this tiny island land La Isla de los Alcatraces, which translated to "Island of the Pelicans." About seventy-two years later in 1847, the U.S. Army took notice of the island rock and of its strategic value as a military base. Engineers began conducting geological surveys, and by 1853, U.S. Army Engineers had started building a military base on the island, along with the Pacific Coast's first operating lighthouse. In 1848, the discovery of gold along the American River in California brought miners from around the world to the West Coast in search of the precious gold. As word spread around the globe of never-ending wealth in California, the United States Government would begin security measures to protect the land from seizure by other countries. After several years of hard construction and many weapons expansions, Alcatraz was established as the United States strong point for military strength . The new military fortress featured long-range iron cannons and four massive 36,000-pound, 15-inch Rodman guns, which were capable of sinking emneny ships three miles away. The guns of Alcatraz could fire 6,949 pounds of iron shot......

Words: 1429 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Alcatraz

...Alcatraz: United States Penitentiary As a result of the Great Depression, a new breed of violent criminals swept the streets of America. In response to the cries of alarmed citizens, Congress enacted a number of statutes, which gave the federal government jurisdiction over certain criminal offenses previously held by the states. With the suggestion of former US Attorney General, Homes Cummings, Congress agreed that a special penal institution of maximum security and minimum privilege be established. In 1934, the legendary US Penitentiary of Alcatraz was born and became the home of Americas most wanted for the next thirty years. Once authorized by Congress, the US Department of Justice acquired control of Alcatraz Island, previously a US Army compound. As the island was redeveloped into a maximum-security prison, seven of its twelve acres were enclosed in a prison compound. The remaining five were set aside for employee residences, apartments, and recreational space. Soon after the redesigning of the old Army fortress, the Alcatraz prison was ready for the grand opening (or better said lockout!). Equipped with four different cellblocks, A, B, C and D, the Rock began its operations on January 2, 1934. Although cellblock A was seldom used, B, C and D provided 378 “cages” to accommodate the most notorious felons that America could produce. The first of four wardens to take charge of the penitentiary was a retired, professional......

Words: 918 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Federal Prison Comparison

...place to call home is a supermax federal prison known as ADX in Colorado. ADX has no country club feel to it because this particular federal prison houses the most dangerous inmates. With this type of federal prison the inmates spend all but one hour of the day locked up. Inmates have no way of seeing the outside world from the cells in which they are living. ADX Federal Prison is the modern day Alcatraz and as mentioned above is no country club and will always house to worst of the worst criminals. Al Capone and John Gotti Two of the most notorious mobsters around Al Capone and John Gotti. Finally “on October 18, 1931, Capone was convicted after trial and on November 24, was sentenced to eleven years in federal prison” (no author, no date). Unlike Al Capone, John Gotti went to federal prison for life in Illinois while Al Capone went to Alcatraz and served only seven years. Alcatraz was a maximum security federal prison known as “The Rock.” This particular prison had rules and regulations that every inmate was to adhere to or disciplinary action will be taken. Although Alcatraz is closed, it will still be considered the most toughest Federal Prisons around. Conclusion Some may believe when an individual commits a white-collar crime they are sentenced to a federal prison; however, the prison he or she is being sent to resembles a more relaxed atmosphere instead of the high walls with razor wire attached to the walls. Not all individuals are sent to club like......

Words: 974 - Pages: 4