Alcatraz Island (sometimes just called Alcatraz or The Rock) is a small island in San Francisco Bay in California, famous because it once housed the eponymous maximum security prison, commonly known for the extreme rigidity.
The penitentiary housed some of America’s most ruthless criminals. Who was sent to Alcatraz was generally considered very dangerous and had already tried to escape from other prisons . The prisoners were in a single cell, with reduced size. Rebellions were punished by imprisonment in the isolation cells, in the cold and dark.
The prison was closed on March 21, 1963, for the high costs of its management: it was necessary to transport the island of foodstuffs, drinking water and clothing.
During the 29 years of the opening of the prison there were 26 escape attempts by 36 detainees in total.
The most famous case of escape from Alcatraz regards Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin , who were able to get out of their cells through the ventilation system (the three have used a simple kitchen spoon to make the tunnel) .
Today the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is a public museum, and one of San Francisco’s major tourist attractions.
Walking along the blocks of Alcatraz is a sensory experience very strong. In the vacuum of today, you can see and hear everything. Are the walls, long corridors, all the same, bars, locks, to tell everything.
And then you can see. The bodies forced into tiny cells. The naked bodies in the great room of showers.
You can hear. The cries of revolt, violence, gunfire. Arrivals to the thoughts, hopes, plans for escape.
And that hole in the wall. A continuous and exhausting work, using a simple kitchen spoon.
A spoon for freedom. It is said that even today the prison of Alcatraz is home of the ghosts of some prisoners who died in prison.
About the author:
Paolo Giancristofaro was born in Italy in 1979, where he lives and works. He’s graduated in Computer Science. He has exhibited his works at Duse Theater in Bologna.