Volstead Act Issues Essay Research Paper In

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Volstead Act Issues Essay, Research Paper In the 1920’s and 1930’s a new wave of crime had swept across the U.S. With the passage of the Volstead Act in 1920, producing and distributing alcohol became an extremely lucrative business. With this also came a sharp rise in organized crime in many of the big cities. Even worse, the crimes committed by members of these gangs became more violent. In July of 1933, J. Edgar Hoover was made the director of the newly formed FBI. Hoover decided that he was going to crack down on these criminals. Hoover chose to aim high and went after the heads of the crime gangs. The problem was that, no sooner did they manage to incarcerate the bad guys when their buddies in the crime organizations would bust them out. With this problem in mind,

the U.S. Justice Department began looking into a maximum security prison that was inaccessible and thereby inescapable. When they found Alcatraz, it was almost too good to be true. October 12, 1933- The U.S. Justice Department officially acquired Alcatraz from the military with plans to incorporate Alcatraz into the Bureau of Prisons. April, 1934- Work began on Alcatraz to make the cellhouse more secure by replacing soft-iron square bars on the cells with rounded “tool-proof” bars. In addition, a new locking device was installed which allowed guards to open selected cells within a block. Metal detectors were installed on the dock and at the entrance to the cellhouse. Additionally, three new guard towers (right) were constructed to keep a birds eye view of the activities on

the island. Most of the military prisoners were released or transferred prior to control of the island switching hands, in June of 1934. However, 32 of the military’s worst criminals remained on the island and became the first inmates of the U.S. Penitentiary, Alcatraz. July 1, 1934- The U.S. Penitentiary, Alcatraz, formally opened with James A. Johnston, a retired California state prison official, as its first warden. At its inception, Alcatraz employed 52 full-time correctional officers, the most of any prison in the system. Warden Johnston decided that the goal of Alcatraz was not going to be rehabilitation, but rather, it would be punishment to its inmates for the wrongs they had committed. Inmates were not permitted to have newspapers, radios, or magazines. In addition, it

was decided that all incoming mail would be type-written by corrections officers, so that coded messages contained in the original letters could not be received by the inmates. A silence rule was put into effect except in the recreation yard and the dining room. Basically, Alcatraz was slated to be a limited privilege prison, meaning “You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention. Anything else you get is a privilege.” (Number 5, Alcatraz Prison Rules and Regulations) However, Warden Johnston also realized that he was dealing with some of the most dangerous prisoners in America, so some concessions had to be made to head off the possibility of an inmate uprising. As a result, Alcatraz’s inmates enjoyed a top-rated prison cafeteria. The menu was diverse,

including salads, fresh fruit, and occasionally, desserts. In addition, seconds on food were allowed. The food served on Alcatraz was said to be the best in the Federal Prison system. Prisoners also enjoyed a well-stocked library in the cellhouse and higher allotments of cigarettes than any other prison. One of the prison’s most notorious inmates arrived on Alcatraz shortly after the island began operations as a federal prison. On August 22, 1934, Al Capone, along with 52 other inmates, was transferred to the island, under heavy security, from a prison in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite Capone’s notoriety, his stay on Alcatraz was surprisingly uneventful. Shortly after Capone’s arrival, another infamous gangster was transferred to Alcatraz. On September 4, 1934, George “Machine