[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the “M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You” used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]
Who Are You?
IN BEAUTIFUL San Francisco bay is located a solid rock island which harbors many of the most dangerous and ruthless criminals in the world. Alcatraz, “the rock” by nickname, is the impenetrable home of about two hundred and seventy-five “intractable male offenders.” The island is separated from the mainland and the cosmopolitan city of San Francisco by more than a mile of water. The tide flows by at a rapid rate and makes escape almost impossible. The island covers about twelve acres and rises from the gateway waters to a height of about one hundred and thirty feet, presenting a majestic view of the Golden Gate bridge, the city of San Francisco and of the stately ships that come and go.
The inmates are the most desperate and unmanageable of federal prisoners. Many of those who have been unable to get along successfully in other federal penal institutions have been transferred to this fortress overlooking the Golden Gate. Many of them leave their imprisonment “feet first” and the average length of sentence is more than twenty-five years. In other words, assembled in this prison is a conglomerate mass of humanity which has seriously violated the rules of society. Here are found men who have disobeyed the laws of the group and oftentimes have ruthlessly forgotten regard for their fellow men. They live in cells about ten by six feet. Each cell contains a single bed, a toilet, a wash basin and two folding tables attached to the walls. The men are dressed in gray outfits, made by some of the inmates, and have numbers over their left pockets for identification. For the first ninety days a newcomer is allowed no mail or visitors, and after that time he is limited to two visits a month by approved persons only. Even then the visit is conducted visually through a small opening of one-inch glass and the voices are carried through two layers of metal with punched holes and meshed iron in between. A few solitary cells, with doors electrically controlled are available for disciplinary purposes. They are entirely soundproof and when the door is shut the inmate is left in utter blackness.
In the first part of May, 1946, a former bank robber and dishonorably discharged soldier, who was serving a twenty-five year sentence, with the help of five other dangerous criminals, engineered a daring revolt in an attempt to escape. This individual, by use of a clever combination of toilet fixtures and a pair of pipe pincers, widened the space between two bars which protected the “gun gallery.” The prisoner gained access to other parts of the prison where he was able to slug and disarm the officer on duty. With the firearms thus obtained the prisoners forced unarmed officers to turn over their keys. Fortunately no keys were available for the door leading to the outside yard and the escape plot was doomed to failure. The mass attempt to escape became a bloody revolt and a treacherous gun battle ensued between the inmates and prison officers and some of the United States Marines who were called in to assist in restoring order on the embattled island. After a two-day siege the prisoners finally surrendered but only after two officers lost their lives, seventeen others were injured and three prisoners including the main perpetrator of the riot were killed and several others injured.
1. Why are there men in Alcatraz today?
2. How do these men differ from M Men who are living their religion?