Alcatraz Prison Essay

1254 Words 6 Pages
Alcatraz Prison, in the San Francisco Bay, is surrounded by freezing waters and razor sharp rocks, making it the most inescapable prison in America. In 1775, a Spanish explorer Juan Manuel De Ayla named the small island La Isla De Los Alcatraces. It translates to “Island of the Pelicans” (Welcome to Alcatraz). This island is a twelve acre rock in the San Francisco Bay, the largest natural harbor in the world (Fuller,8). Because Alcatraz is surrounded by ice cold waters and dangerous currents, it was soon to be considered a perfect location for holding prisoners (Welcome to Alcatraz). “The Rock” opened for the first time as a federal prison in 1934 (Alcatraz Prison).

The first warden on Alcatraz was James A. Johnston, he started on
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Also, Cell block D was used for solitary confinement for talking or disobeying (Oliver, 70). Straight jackets, and tightening the handcuffs were also quite common as punishment (Oliver, 71).

The inmates were divided into three groups according to the degree of crimes they committed. The third group was the most troubled prisoners (Welcome to Alcatraz). They could have no reading material, no contact with any family, and were to be silent at all times (Welcome to Alcatraz). When prisoners weren't doing manual labor, they did various activities. In 1935, the University of California Extension Program let prisoners enroll in courses. They could choose from twenty options from French to arithmetic, and from vegetable gardening to music (Presnall, 63). They were allowed to get as many fiction books as they desired, and were able to receive up to twenty magazines yearly (Presnall, 63). Inmates shared their skills and taught each other how to draw and paint artwork and play various instruments (Presnall, 63). Some, would have boxing matches between one another (Oliver, 60). Each inmate had their own cell. A small, five foot by nine foot cell, a sink and toilet, and a small cot ( Fuller, 8). Guards were very strict with prisoners, they made roughly twelve inmate counts daily (Welcome to Alcatraz)! There was to be one guard for every three

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