mattress for the inmate to sleep on but removed it first thing in the morning. A typical two-day stay in Strip Cell usually solved any problem. The worst offenders housed in the prison lived under regular isolation conditions in D Block, showering twice
per week and eating in their cells. Prisoners in isolation could not
participate in the prison’s work programs. Robert Franklin Stroud, twice convicted of murder, resided in cell 42 for six of his 17 years in Alcatraz. Although known as “The Birdman of Alcatraz,” he never kept birds on the island, as had been his hobby at Leavenworth Prison, where he had studied ornithology and authored two books on birds, specializing in canaries. Those in the regular population could participate in the work program, and the prison offered a plethora of opportunities. They could work in the library, factory, machine shop, or barbershop, or make repairs throughout the island. In the earliest days as a prison, some of the prisoners worked as babysitters for the prison guards’ families. Rather than commute to work, prison guards could choose to live on the island. Many families resided in apartments built on the island, as well as small homes. Many children grew up on the island, and some documentaries have been filmed on the lives and lifestyles of those who lived on Alcatraz Island, outside of the prison. Amidst this secluded setting, few prisoners attempted to escape. Of the 1,576 inmates, only 36 attempted escape in 14 separate events. Only three survived to escape from Alcatraz. Alphonse Gabriel Capone (1899–1947), sometimes known by the nickname “Scarface,” was an American gangster and businessman.
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