March 7, 2017

Alcatraz: The Gangster Years by David Ward, Gene Kassebaum

By David Ward, Gene Kassebaum

Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Alvin Karpis, "Dock" Barker—these have been quite a few of the mythical "public enemies" for whom America's first supermax felony was once created. In Alcatraz: The Gangster Years, David Ward brings their tales to lifestyles, besides brilliant money owed of the lives of alternative notorious criminals who undergone the reformatory from 1934 to 1948. Ward, who loved exceptional entry to FBI, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Federal Parole files, performed interviews with 100 former Alcatraz convicts, guards, and directors to provide this definitive historical past of "The Rock." Alcatraz is the single ebook with authoritative solutions to questions that experience swirled concerning the legal: How did prisoners cope psychologically with the tough regime? What provoked the protests and moves? How did protection flaws result in the sensational get away makes an attempt? And what occurred whilst those "habitual, incorrigible" convicts have been eventually published? by way of shining a gentle at the most renowned felony on this planet, Ward additionally increases well timed questions about latest supermax prisons.

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Extra info for Alcatraz: The Gangster Years

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Chuck Stucker, president of the Alcatraz Alumni Association (former Alcatraz employees, their children, grandchildren, or other relatives), and former officer George Devincenzi also provided important information. Eric Engles’s editorial work included a reorganization of chapters that would distinguish between the history of Alcatraz and the sociology of confinement there. Niels Hooper, history editor at UC Press, managed the process of obtaining evaluations of drafts from outside experts, guided the manuscript through the UC faculty review committees, and supervised the editing.

Remembering what Karabelas had said about Alcatraz, and aware of the mystery and controversy surrounding the prison, I realized that Alcatraz was a very different kind of prison and that a study of its convict culture could provide valuable insights. In the early 1960s, when I had moved to UCLA to work on a study of psychologically based treatment programs in California prisons, I wrote to the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, James V. Bennett, and asked if he would authorize a sociological study of Alcatraz.

Carlson. James Bennett made this project a reality in many ways, not the least of which was notifying former staff members that after decades during which they were told not to discuss anything about Alcatraz with persons outside the Bureau, they could talk with me. During a series of interviews he shared his own recollections of major policy issues, problems and incidents on the island, his personal contact with several dozen prisoners, and the continuing debate over the role of Alcatraz within the Bureau of Prisons during the three decades when the prison was his responsibility.

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