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F. P. Dorchak

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Crime And Punishment - Alcatraz
9/29/2007 9:41:23 AM
September 8, one of my brothers and I took the Alcatraz tour, a defunct maximum security prison since its closure on March 21, 1963 (after serving 29 years as a federal penitentiary), and which is about 1 1/4 miles off San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf area. I’d been curious about the prison for years, seen movies about it, documentaries about it, so it was quite something to finally see first hand. My brother and I walked around the place, then took the self-guided tour (free with tour purchase) inside the B, C, and D cell blocks, where the prisoners were kept. Things most people might not know about it is that Alcatraz (which is a cool name; I have to admit I’ve always thought the name pretty gnarly) was used as a fort during Civil War (never fired a “shot in anger”), a small group of Native Americas occupied it in the ‘60s as a way of reclaiming portions of the country stolen from them, there were no gas chambers, and the “Birdman of Alcatraz,” Robert Stroud, who was in for some really nasty murder, never had any birds at Alcatraz--he’d had them at another facility he’d had the pleasure of “visiting.”

I’d heard there were those who’d seen and heard ghosts there, but I saw none--just lots of tourists packed into the same limited area, all walking around with blank looks on our faces like conscious zombies, as we took the self-guided recorded tour. But as I walked throughout the place, as I always do in places of great history, I tried to “get into” the feel of the place, from a person’s point of view of who lived and worked there. Tried to feel what it would have felt like were I to have been there as a prisoner or guard. Tried to feel what it felt like to have been one of several guards who’d been captured by prisoners during a riot, shoved into a tiny cell--and subsequently murdered. Tried to feel what it felt like to have been a prisoner sent to that island to find it my new home for however many years. It was definitely a place of grim despair, a dark, empty place. A place of rules and restrictions. Resignation. One long day at a time. Doing what you were told. Lots of thinking. Lots of time perhaps regretting whatever was done that would have put them there. Perhaps the most depressing part would be the lack of hope in a place like this. What do you have to look forward to? A brawl? Escape? Time out in the wind-blown “rec area” with gulls and terns (I’m guessing they were) screeching above? In a place like that all you got is time....

But the place was down-right spooky, whether or not I saw any “official” ghosts, There were plenty of “unofficial” ghosts one could easily pick up on by imagining all the lives lived and now long gone...in not only the cell blocks, but the decrepit buildings all over the island...from the former-but-now-gutted-and-skeletal Post Exchange and Officer’s Club held together by a prayer, the old and abandoned Store/warehouse, Power Plant and Model and New Industries Buildings (this was a REAL creepy looking building, this last one), some of which would greatly lend themselves to horror movies....

And I say it again: it was depressing...especially to imagine this as your life, even your job. To be a prison guard you definitely have to be a certain type of person. The cells in B and C blocks were small, 6-by-9-by-something, while those in isolation (D block) were slightly larger. It was almost too much to imagine, and hard to put into words the feeling I got from being there. Life had to have become...two-dimensional. Reeking with despair. Some might say those put there got what they deserved, and that might be, but what a miserable and disheartening way to exist as a human being. All you know are bars. Confinement. The worst of society--or those who have COMMITTED the worst acts upon society. What kind of an outlook does that give a person? How does that change you? How does that help or educate a prisoner to become a better person if there is any chance of change? If that’s all you know...how can a person ever “right” him or herself?

The whole topic of our prison systems can be quite controversial, I know, but the fact of the matter is, there are those out there who break our rules, and in some very heinous ways, and they do have to be dealt with, so how do you do it? Are our current prison systems really the answer? All I know was that as my brother and I walked those grim halls and explored that little chunk of rock, it gave me lots to think about.

Which, I guess, is what a “penitentiary” was originally intended to do.

http://www.nps.gov/alcatraz/

http://www.AlcatrazTrips.com/


FPD


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More Blogs by F. P. Dorchak
• My Blog Has Moved.... - Sunday, August 23, 2009
• Skeptic, Debunker, or Open-minded? - Saturday, August 15, 2009
• Julie & Julia - A Reduction - Tuesday, August 11, 2009
• So, Just What Is It About... - Monday, August 10, 2009
• Past Life - Sunday, August 02, 2009
• Interview With a Non-Vampire, by Wendy Burt-Thomas - Thursday, July 30, 2009
• Twisting In The Wind - Writing Outside The Box - Wednesday, July 29, 2009
• Tick, Tick, Tick, Tock - Part II - Sunday, July 26, 2009
• Tick, Tick, Tick, Tock.... - Friday, July 24, 2009
• The Need For Sleep--Overrated? - Monday, July 13, 2009
• 2009 Roswell UFO Festival - Sunday, June 28, 2009
• Guerilla Drive-Ins! - Monday, June 15, 2009
• Soul Survivor - Wednesday, June 10, 2009
• Inside The Writer’s Mind - Tuesday, June 09, 2009
• The Wrestler - Saturday, May 30, 2009
• Rob Butts: A Retrospect - Friday, May 29, 2009
• Think Good Thoughts? - Friday, May 22, 2009
• The Case For Reincarnation - Friday, May 08, 2009
• Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2009 - Outstanding! - Tuesday, April 28, 2009
• Exopolitics--We Are Not Alone? - Tuesday, April 21, 2009
• Upcoming Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) 2009! - Friday, April 17, 2009
• The Last Man On The Moon - A Review - Friday, March 27, 2009
• Jeff Peckman and the Metaphysical Aspects of UFOs - Saturday, March 14, 2009
• Antigravity, Subquantum Kinetics, UFOs, and the New World Order - Thursday, February 26, 2009
• Says it all.... - Tuesday, January 13, 2009
• Marley & Me - Saturday, January 10, 2009
• The Day The Earth Stood Still - Tuesday, December 23, 2008
• If We Live Again.... - Saturday, December 20, 2008
• I Found an Agent! - Saturday, December 06, 2008
• Happy Hallowe’en! - Friday, October 31, 2008
• The Roswell Legacy - Jesse Marcel, Jr., MD - Monday, October 20, 2008
• Code Enforcer—The Movie - Tuesday, October 14, 2008
• Nervous Energy and Superpowers! - Friday, October 10, 2008
• Rustling Leaves, Whispering Souls, and Gardens of Stone - Friday, October 03, 2008
• Revisiting Old Ghosts - Wednesday, October 01, 2008
• Commercial V. Literary -- Taking The Zen Approach - Saturday, August 09, 2008
• More Talk Of Extraterrestrial Cover-ups - Friday, July 25, 2008
• Larry King - Are Aliens Watching Us...? - Saturday, July 19, 2008
• William Shatner - Up Till Now Autobiography - Sunday, July 13, 2008
• Penmen! Laugh at their Surreal Ingenuity! - Friday, July 04, 2008
• Roswell - 61 Years Ago and Counting.... - Wednesday, July 02, 2008
• 61st Anniversary of the Kenneth Arnold 1947 “Saucer” Sightings - Tuesday, June 24, 2008
• Cells Phones Tracked in the Name Of Science - Wednesday, June 04, 2008
• In Memoriam: Robert F. Butts, Passed Away at 88 - Sunday, June 01, 2008
• Some People’s Kids - Alien or Otherwise - Fake Romanek YouTube Alien Video - Saturday, May 31, 2008
• Excuse Me, There’s and Alien At My Window - The Romanek/Peckman Alien Video - Friday, May 30, 2008
• Jeff Peckman and Extraterrestrial Proof Tomorrow - Thursday, May 29, 2008
• New Twilight Zone Graphic Novels! - Saturday, May 24, 2008
• The Black Hole Blues*! - Thursday, May 22, 2008
• United Kingdom Releasing UFO Files To Public - Saturday, May 17, 2008
• Vatican Validating Extraterrestrials?! - Wednesday, May 14, 2008
• Denver Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission, Part Deux - Friday, May 09, 2008
• The Supernatural and All Things Weird - Tuesday, May 06, 2008
• A Denver Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission - Saturday, May 03, 2008
• Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) 2008 - Monday, April 28, 2008
• The World's Greatest Writer! - Saturday, March 08, 2008
• The Brief History of the Dead - Sunday, February 17, 2008
• In Memoriam - Rod Serling - Sunday, December 30, 2007
• The Meaning of Christmas? - Friday, December 21, 2007
• Tell It Like It Is - Harlan Ellison - Saturday, December 08, 2007
• Ice and Death - R.M.S. Titanic - Sunday, November 25, 2007
• The Amazing and Mysterious Blue Cloud - Saturday, November 17, 2007
• Amazon Novel Contest and UFOs - Tuesday, November 13, 2007
• The Disclosure Project: UFO Press Release Monday - Saturday, November 10, 2007
• Think Differently - Friday, November 09, 2007
• Dreams and...Reality? - Saturday, November 03, 2007
• Sleepwalkers MotionTomes(TM) Podcast! - Tuesday, October 30, 2007
• Do You Believe? - Sunday, October 28, 2007
• Cool Hallowe’en Links! - Saturday, October 27, 2007
• Face Your Fears! - Friday, October 26, 2007
• Who's Afraid of a Couple Ghosties.... - Thursday, October 25, 2007
• Age Old Issues - Saturday, October 20, 2007
• Reverse Engineering Aliens - Sunday, October 14, 2007
• Seeing The Light! - Saturday, October 06, 2007
• Amazon.com Contest! - Wednesday, October 03, 2007
• The Art of Killing - Sunday, September 30, 2007
•  Crime And Punishment - Alcatraz - Saturday, September 29, 2007  
• Pay Per View - Sunday, September 02, 2007
• Church and Steak - Saturday, September 01, 2007
• China Bans Reincarnation! - Friday, August 31, 2007
• Culture of Fear?! - Friday, August 24, 2007
• Here’s A Thought - Wednesday, August 22, 2007
• Walk Like An Egyptian.... - Thursday, August 16, 2007
• Same Old Story - Sunday, August 05, 2007
• Decrypting The Paranormal - Friday, August 03, 2007
• Let’s Get Paranormal! - Saturday, July 28, 2007
• Movie Night! - Friday, July 20, 2007
• Night of the Living Dead [Genre] - Saturday, July 14, 2007
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• Roswell - Sunday, July 08, 2007
• Picking at Scabs - Saturday, June 30, 2007
• Hamstrung - Friday, June 29, 2007
• Circular File - Monday, June 25, 2007
• Can I Take Your Pulse? - Friday, June 15, 2007
• Write and Wrong - Part II - Tuesday, June 12, 2007
• Write And Wrong - Part I - Sunday, June 10, 2007
• For Whom The Bell Tolls - Friday, June 01, 2007
• It’s All In My Head - Friday, May 25, 2007
• The Sky Is Falling! - Saturday, May 19, 2007
• Responsibility - Tuesday, May 15, 2007
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• Wind Instruments at PPWC 2007. - Saturday, April 28, 2007
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• Medium - Saturday, March 31, 2007
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• Been Remiss--Apologies - Sunday, March 18, 2007


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