ALCATRAZ ISLAND AND PRISON Essay Research Paper — страница 2

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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.