The Effects Of Alcatraz Essay Research Paper

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The Effects Of Alcatraz Essay, Research Paper page 1 THE CREATION OF aLCATRAZ Between the years 1934 and 1963 one of the most infamous prisons in history was operated. Alcatraz Island Federal Penitentiary earned a reputation for being one of the most feared prisons in the world. Its maximum security ?escape-proof? environment was built to house the most villainous criminals of its time. For 29 years, under four wardens, Alcatraz Penitentiary succeeded as being a place of isolation and reformation for a total of 1,567 inmates. During the 1930?s a crime wave crashed through American towns and cities. The primary cause for the eruption and eventual spread of criminal activity, during this period known as the ?Gangster Era,? was the legal prohibition of intoxicating drinks. Gangs

such as the Toughy Gang were involved in robberies, dealing with post offices and mail-delivery vehicles, around the country. Other well-known offenders included Al Capone, ?machine gun? kelly, albert bates, harvey baily, and john dillinger (all who ended up in alcatraz, except for dillinger who was killed by the police). It was clear that the local law enforcement agencies were unable to combat the threat these men posed to the community. Even when they were captured and incarcerated, it was not uncommon for them to escape and continue their dealings in a new city or state. The increased element of criminal activity in American cities made it clear that America needed a place to isolate its ?most dangerous public enemies.? The government recognized the benefits that such an

institution would provide. If this group of men, known as ?the toughest two percent,? were isolated from society and even from other prisoners in the state institutions, a great burden would be lifted from the federal system. The attorney general at the time, homer s. cummings, consulted president Franklin Roosevelt about the concept of building a prison for the sole purpose of reforming and isolating page 2 dangerous criminals from the general public. Roosevelt supported this revolutionary idea, and swiftly approved the project. attorney general cummings, then began preparations for locating a suitable site for this prison of ?supermaximum security?. Shortly after his search began, cummings discovered that alcatraz island, which had previously been used by the war department as

a military fort and prison, was not being fully utilized. in 1934, an informal transfer of alcatraz island from the war department, to the department of justice, was completed and preparations were continued for the occupation of the island and the establishment of a prison. If alcatraz was to be a place of storage for hundreds of men it would have to be thoroughly remodeled. the older buildings of the military prison would be restored, and additional areas would be added. it was the job of alcatraz?s first warden, James A. johnston, to supervise the addition of the necessary features, and to make it ?escape proof.? johnston began the remodeling enterprise by installing communication devices such as short wave radio and telephones, which would allow the guards and other personal

to communicate around the island, and it also enabled them to communicate with the mainland. these security features would also prove to be useful in the future to prevent against riots. searchlight towers and floodlights were also added to the old army prison to prepare for the future influx of prisoners. tear gas outlets were installed in the ceiling of the dinning hall, and at the main entrance of the administration building. Ideally, the prisoners would not have had sufficient access to enough materials within their cells to create a successful riot. Therefore, it was not necessary to install tear gas outlets in the individual cells of the prison. The next security feature that was added to alcatraz penitentiary was the hiring of armed guards. For every three alcatraz