Insanity in Alcatraz

By~Maggie Durham

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Inmates had to break rules, like attempting escape, to get into Alcatraz. Inmates were racially segregated on Alcatraz. One of the bad things were that they encouraged to to do was smoke, in the halls they had a place for inmates to roll their own cigars. They also were forced to shave, if they refused, guards would shave the inmates themselves. No-one within a block of the prison was aloud to talk, which led to the worst punishment, insanity.

Difforant level of D-block

The inmates were put into D-block as the result of violence in general population a behavioral problem. If they were violent and had a behavioral problem in D-block, they were put into solitary confinement cells. There were 42 D-block cells in total, there were 36 segregation cells and 6 solitary confinement cells. There was also an A-block cell, it was rare short term use, it was for when an inmate did not require full solitary confinement seclusion, but needed to be fully isolated from other inmates, some of the people in A-block did things in normal prison that got them there without even going to the regular cells, like Birdman, who killed a guard while in regular prison.

How they kept sane within D-block

People tried desperately to keep themselves sane while stuck in D-block. Some played games by themselves. Like one man who would pull a button off of his shirt, throw the button, close his eyes, and spin in a circle before trying to find the button.

Effects it had on people

Some people couldn’t stop from going insane. One person slammed their head against the wall again and again, trying desperately to get the voices out of his head. Another man chopped off his own fingers with an ax. Plus, one man tried to climb the fence right in front of a guard.


Alcatraz was a very horrible place. It drove some to the brink of insanity, while it had already broken others. People would do anything yo get out. It had the worst of the worst within it's thick walls. It wasn't made to heal, it was made to punish. It is now a museum, able to walk through any day you wish.