Have you ever heard about Alcatraz? It is one of the most well-known jails for military and exceptionally dangerous prisoners. The quod is located on the island, washed by the cold waters with high streams of the bay. Being reliably protected from all attempts to escape, the jail is also notorious for extremely harsh rules and living conditions for prisoners. However, did anybody ever run away from Alcatraz? Were these attempts successful? What happened to fugitives? There are plenty of questions that still remain to be answered.
The majority of escapes from Alcatraz were caused by rigorous jail’s rules. Most prisoners were forced to stay in extremely cold and bleak conditions, work hard and have no communication with their family and loved ones. They also faced with a constant threat of being put into the isolation ward for any violation of rules. An isolation ward had even harsher routines: the convicts were allowed to eat only bread and water during their stay in completely dark and freezing camera.
As for attempts to escape Alcatraz, there were 14 acknowledged tries to run away from a prison. Most prisoners were caught, found dead in the icy waters or shot by the jail guards. Moreover, there were people, who tried to escape Alcatraz for several times; all of them failed. However, there were also some convicts who run away and are still considered to be missing.
What Are the Most Famous Alcatraz Escapes?
Most of Alcatraz escapes had common features: the prisoners sawed the gates or tried to run away using their working tools, available on the island. Although some convicts succeed to get to the bay, most of them were shot or died in the freezing water from hypothermia. Furthermore, there were few prisoners, who failed to swim away from the island and returned to Alcatraz by themselves.
John Giles was among the prisoners, who tried to escape in the most unusual way. He worked in a jail’s laundry, where clothes of both convicts and militaries had been washed. Giles disguised himself in a military uniform and was going to have a dinner with ‘his colleagues’ in San Francisco. However, the prisoner was unlucky: that day all the militaries were having dinner on the Angel Island. John’s absence in prison was quickly noticed and he was soon grabbed and sent back to jail.
Frank Morris Famous Escape
One of the most famous runaways was performed by Frank Morris and his two cellmates, known as brothers Anglin in 1962. Having extraordinary high IQ level, Frank Morris run away from different prisons for 11 times before he was finally sent to Alcatraz. He carefully planned his runaway with the two brothers, as well as another cellmate, Alan West. However, West did not escape due to unknown circumstances.
Morris studied the prison’s rules, looked for any weak points in the security system, observed the directions of streams in the bay and scheduled the route to escape for months. Then the prisoners, who used a self-made drill, dug up a hole in one of the cameras and reached the service tunnel. Morris and Anglin also made dolls out of soap to make sure the guards would not notice their absence for a long time.
When the fugitives reached the tunnel, they got rid of its lattice and climbed to the roof. Here they descended to water using a drainpipe. To sail away from jail, the prisoners used a special raft that was pre-made from rubber cloaks.
However, the escapees were likely not to reach the shore. According to the main version of the authorities, all the escapees, who were taking part in the runaway, are considered missing. Their bodies were never found. As for unofficial version, they could get to the shore and hide.
An alternative version that stands for the fact that former prisoners might be still alive is proven by the case happened several years after Alcatraz escape. Anglin’s mother received a Christmas postcard, signed by both brothers. Furthermore, a graphological examination confirmed that the signatures belonged to John and Clarence Anglin.
All these facts prove that even most reliable prisons always have some security issues, while the most talented prisoners can easily use them for unreal and almost impossible escapes.
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MacDonald, Donald and Nadel, Ira. “Alcatraz: History and Design of a Landmark. ” Chronicle Books, 2012
A. Ward, David. “Alcatraz: The Gangster Years.”University of California Press, 2009