Monday, June 16, 2008

Alcatraz, USA

This card made me open a label of 'cool cards'...definitely one of the coolest i had received...well, i chose it myself :)
Why I like it? Coz of its concept and the "Facts and Figures" part...its not like the usual cards...there was another Alcatraz card which just represented the prison from above....compared to this one, that one felt plain...i like unusual cards i have to say, though since my taste can be picky and a bit questionable of what i actually consider unusual and cool...

I hope you can read the text on the card, so i wont be repeating it here...

Alcatraz Island, sometimes informally referred to as simply Alcatraz or by its pop-culture name, The Rock (this is the first time i hear of Alcatraz being referred to this way) is a small island located in the middle of San Francisco Bay in California.
It served as a lighthouse, then a military fortification, then a military prison followed by a federal prison until 1963. It became a national recreation area in 1972 and received landmarking designations in 1976 and 1986.

The first Spaniard to discover the island was Juan Manuel de Alaya in 1775, who charted San Francisco Bay and named the island "La Isla de los Alcatraces," which means "Island of the pelicans."

Because of its isolation in the middle of a bay, surrounded by cold water and strong sea currents, Alcatraz was considered by the U.S. Army as ideal for captives. The maximum number of inmates was 302. In 1906, following the San Francisco earthquake, hundreds of civilian prisoners were transferred to the island for safety.

Alcatraz was the army’s first long-term prison and beginning to build its reputation as a tough detention facility by exposing inmates to harsh conditions and discipline. Prisoners who violated the rules faced strict discipline. Violators were assigned punishments that included working on hard labor and solitary lock-downs with a bread and water diet.
Alcatraz primarily functioned in a minimum-security capacity. The work given to inmates changed depended on the prisoners, their classification, and how responsible they were. Many cooked, cleaned and attended to household works for families who lived on the island. In many cases, select prisoners cared for children of staff members. Alcatraz was also the home of several Chinese families, who were employed as servants and made up the largest segment of the island's civilian population. The lack of a focus on security helped inmates who hoped to escape. But most escapees never made it to land, and usually turned back to be rescued from the freezing water. Those who failed to turn back died because of the cold water.

During its 29 years of operation, the penitentiary claimed no prisoners as having ever successfully escaped. 36 prisoners were involved in 14 attempts, two men trying twice; seven were shot and killed, two drowned, June 11 1962, in one of the most intricate escapes ever devised.

One of the famous people who served a sentence in Alcatraz, is Al Capone, who arrived there in 1934.

The penitentiary was closed for good on March 21st 1963, because it was far more expensive to operate than other prisons (nearly $10 per prisoner per day), half a century of salt water saturation had severely eroded the buildings, and the bay was being badly polluted by the sewage from the approximately 250 inmates and 60 Bureau of Prisons families on the island.


Jessica said...

Glad you liked it :)


Andrew C. said...

Very Informative, makes me wanna go there to not only see the island/penitentiary, but to learn more about what life was like there on the island.