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University of California Press
Alcatraz: The Gangster Years / Edition 1

Alcatraz: The Gangster Years / Edition 1

by David A. Ward, Gene Kassebaum


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Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Alvin Karpis, "Dock" Barker—these were just a few of the legendary "public enemies" for whom America's first supermax prison was created.
In Alcatraz: The Gangster Years, David Ward brings their stories to life, along with vivid accounts of the lives of other infamous criminals who passed through the penitentiary from 1934 to 1948. Ward, who enjoyed unprecedented access to FBI, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Federal Parole records, conducted interviews with one hundred former Alcatraz convicts, guards, and administrators to produce this definitive history of "The Rock." Alcatraz is the only book with authoritative answers to questions that have swirled about the prison: How did prisoners cope psychologically with the harsh regime? What provoked the protests and strikes? How did security flaws lead to the sensational escape attempts? And what happened when these "habitual, incorrigible" convicts were finally released? By shining a light on the most famous prison in the world, Ward also raises timely questions about today's supermax prisons.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520265967
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 05/19/2009
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 584
Sales rank: 536,756
Product dimensions: 8.78(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.41(d)

About the Author

David Ward is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. He is the coauthor (with Gene Kassebaum) of Prison Treatment and Parole Survival and coeditor (with Kenneth Schoen) of Confinement in Maximum Custody: New Last-Resort Prisons in the United States and Europe. Ward served as consultant to the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on the Judiciary for an investigation at Alcatraz's successor, the Federal Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, and is a member of a consultant group investigating prison gang policies in the California Department of Corrections. Gene Kassebaum is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Hawaii and has also coauthored with Ward, Women's Prison: Sex and Social Structure.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xxi

Introduction: Reconstructing the Life of a Prison 1

Part I Alcatraz from 1934 to 1948

1 The Federal Government's War on "Public Enemies" 13

2 A New Form of Imprisonment 49

3 Selecting the "Worst of the Worst" 70

4 The Program 97

5 Organized Resistance: A Regime Tested 120

6 Finding a Hole in the Rock: The First Escape Attempts 150

7 Alcatraz on Trial 181

8 The War Years 205

9 The Battle of Alcatraz 238

Part II Life on the Rock for Resisters and Public Enemies

10 Resistance and Adaptation 283

11 Outlaws among Outlaws 304

12 Celebrity Prisoners 338

Part III Alcatraz As an Experiment in Penal Policy

13 Return to the Free World 385

14 Lessons from Alcatraz for Supermax Prisons 445

Epilogue 461

Notes 467

Bibliographic Commentary 519

About the Authors 523

Index 525

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Enjoyable as well as informative. Anyone who has read it is unlikely to look upon the Rock quite the same way ever again."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Alcatraz, as David Ward has re-created it, is irresistible to read about."—California Lawyer

"Alcatraz: The Gangster Years deserves a place in the library of anyone or institution."—California Historian

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