Alcatraz Screw: My Years as a Guard in America's Most Notorious Prison

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University of Missouri Press, Dec 17, 2013 - Social Science - 264 pages
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Alcatraz Screw is a firsthand account from a prison guard’s perspective of some of the most storied years at the infamous U.S. Penitentiary at Alcatraz. George Gregory began his career as a guard for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 1940. Following his training, he was sent to the federal prison at Sandstone, Minnesota. A few years later he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Badly wounded at Iwo Jima, he returned to Sandstone after a long rehabilitation. When the Bureau of Prisons closed Sandstone in 1947, Gregory was transferred to Alcatraz, which had been a federal penitentiary since 1934. For the next fifteen years, Gregory worked on “The Rock.” He takes the reader along on a correctional officer’s tour of duty, showing what it was like to pull a lonely, tedious night of sentry duty in the Road Tower, or witness illicit transactions in the clothing room, or forcibly quell a riot in the cell blocks. Gregory provides an insider’s account of the tenures of all four of Alcatraz’s wardens and their sometimes contradictory approaches to administering the institution. He knew and regularly interacted with such legendary inmates as Robert Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz) and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. Without glamorizing or demonizing either the staff or the convicts, Alcatraz Screw provides a candid portrayal of corruption, drug abuse, and sexual practices, as well as efforts at reform and unrecorded acts of kindness. Various incidents in the memoir convey the fear, hatred, frustration, boredom, and unavoidable tension of being incarcerated. With the inclusion of maps and diagrams of Alcatraz Island, as well as photographs of inmates, officers, and the prison itself, this book offers insight into life at the notorious Alcatraz from an unprecedented perspective.
 

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Alcatraz screw: my years as a guard in America's most notorious prison

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There has been a resurgence of interest in Alcatraz. In The Great Escape (2001), Jolene Babyak gives her version of the only successful escape from the Rock, and in Alcatraz Justice (2002), Earnest ... Read full review

Contents

Destination Alcatraz
15
The Beginning of an Adventure
19
The Mule Barn
33
An Alcatraz Screw at Work
38
A OneMan Hunger Strike
47
Trouble in the Yard
53
Road Tower Morning Watch
61
Island Patrol Morning Watch
67
Sick Call
168
The Chain
177
The Sleeping Potion
179
The Chief Steward
185
Mr Eastland
190
The Clothing Room
197
Trouble Coming
206
Trouble Continues
220

A Change of Command
82
Acting Lieutenant
93
Cell House Day Watch
101
Alcatraz and the Courts
136
Mail Censor
145
The Hospital
153
Dr Melvin Ralston
162
Dinner Is Served
226
My New Clothing Room Crew
233
Cold Showers for TU Inmates
237
Return from Vacation
240
The End of an Adventure
244
Index
251
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

George H. Gregory was a correctional officer at the U.S. Penitentiary at Alcatraz from 1947 to 1962.

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