Alcatraz Essay

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Life in Alcatraz Alcatraz received its name in 1775 by a Spanish explorer named Juan Manuel de Ayala. He charted the San Francisco Bay and named it La Isla de los Alcatraces which means “Island of the Pelicans”. The island had minimal vegetation and it had barren ground with strong, swift currents surrounding it. In 1853 the United States army engineers started constructing military fortress (“Dreaded! Grim! Mysterious!”). The island had long-range iron cannons and four massive 36,000 pound fifteen inch Rodmen guns. In 1859 Alcatraz has its first prisoners who were military convicts (Taylor, Troy). By 1898 The Spanish- American War sent the prisoner population from less than 100 to 450. It was the army’s first long term prison and was beginning to become a harsh facility. Alcatraz was known as a tough detention facility, it was where the most notorious criminals were and where the criminals who refuse to abide by the rules of other prisons were sent. Alcatraz was a place where there were strict rules. The prisoners had four rights: food, clothing, shelter, and medical care; everything else has to be earned (“A brief history..”). The privileges would consist of working, corresponding with and having visits from family member, having access to the prison library, and being involved in recreational activities such as painting and music. If the prisoners did not follow the rules, they would be put on punishment. In Alcatraz the punishments were very strict and harsh. The “Hole” was one of the punishments. It was located on the bottom tier of the cells. There were no mattresses, and the meals were only bread and water; the inmates would have a solid meal every third day( Taylor, Troy). The steel doors were opaque around the cells. Inmates would spend about nineteen days there with complete silence and isolation from everybody. It was psychological and sometimes

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