The History Of Alcatraz Essay Research Paper — страница 2

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tenant.? Alcatraz was a true version of hell on earth. The daily misery made death look attractive to some inmates. Upon entering the prison doors, a doctor awaited the incoming inmate. The prisoner received delousing of head and public hair, followed by a mouth, ear and rectum search. After a shower the new inmate was given his prison fatigues and then walked to his prison cell. ?With a crash, the steel gate slammed shut with a sound that seemed to bring finality to everything that life had to offer.? All cell bars were made of tool-proof steel and were hacksaw resistance. Every cell contained a metal table fastened to the wall, a cot-sized iron frame bed with a small pull-out beneath, a lumpy mattress, pillow, coarse bed sheets, a thin army surplus blanket, a seat less toilet,

a sink with cold running water and a tin drinking cup (Redden, 169, 174) (Quillen, 7). Inmates were awakened at 6:30 a.m. After washing, dressing and tidying their cells, they were counted then marched to a twenty-minute breakfast. Some men went to work assignments until 11:40. Working in prison industries was considered a privilege. Some possible jobs included carpentry, shoe repair, or working in the glove factory, laundry room or brush factory. Inmates could earn as much as $52 a month. Before returning from prison workshops, prisoners had to pass through a metal detector. .? Inmates made ?shivs? or narrow blades from brass or plastic which could not be detected by the machine and therefore, guards also searched randomly looking for weapons 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 weekly along with baked potatoes. Pork chops and milkshakes were served once a month. The dining hall was one of the most dangerous areas of the prison. Guards were unarmed for fear of a united group attack. The dining room had a ceiling of tear gas cylinders. The tear gas could be released by catwalk guards in the event of a mess hall riot. The dining hall was run strictly and the warden made sure the meals were well prepared. At the end of each twenty-minute meal, inmates were to lay their forks, spoons and knives on the table so a count could be made of all utensils as these could easily become

weapons. After lunch inmates returned to their cells and were again counted at noon. They were then allowed to return to their work stations until 4:15 p.m. The prisoners were again counted, served dinner, then locked in their cells at 4:45 p.m. for the evening. Lights were out at 9:30 p.m. Thirteen counts were made in every twenty-four hour period. Inmates were permitted to shower twice a week and change clothes at that time. Before entering the shower inmates were required to pass through an electronic metal-detecting unit (Redden, 169) (Golden Gate National Park Association, Discover Alcatraz, 10). Disobeying rules led to solitary in Block D. Cells number 9 through 14 in Block ?D? were often referred to as ?the Hole.? There was no light and the cell was windowless with solid

doors and steel walls. The cell was always in complete darkness. The only human contact came when two meals were served through a slot in the door and when the inmate was led out for a weekly shower. Most inmates spent no more than five days in the Hold, but some were confined for months and years. During these times especially, death looked attractive to inmates due to the daily infliction of psychological torture. Prisoners in the regular cellblocks sometimes opted for the ?back door parole.? This was achieved by hanging themselves, slashing their arteries or diving head-first into eternity from the cellblock?s third-tier gallery onto the polished floor below. Jim Quillen, prisoner #AZ586 said, ?Nothing could blot out the knowledge of what and where you were, or the certainty

that this was all that life held for you in the future. Man was never intended to live as a caged animal; I often speculated as to whether life was worth living under these conditions? (Golden Gate National Park Association, Escapes, 9). Less than 10% of Alcatraz inmates received visits from loved ones. The majority of wives and parents from the East coast could not face up to the long drive by automobile, nor could they afford the round-trip fare by bus, train, or plane. All inmate visitors were restricted to the spouse, blood relative, or the inmate?s attorney. Visitors faced inmates separated by a two-inch pane of shatterproof glass. Visitors and prisoners could talk through a telephone and all conversations were monitored (Redden, 173). Increased maintenance costs led