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Haunted Prisons: Alcatraz I
Posted In: Information and Theories  12/6/11
By: Yona Williams

Some people come to Alcatraz to check out the rock pools or take pictures of the seabird colonies that call the island their home, such as Western Gulls and egrets. The National Park Service operates tours as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In this article, you will learn about some of the activity conducted at the prison that could have led to unsettled spirits refusing to leave.

Punishments at Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz was a prison known for its harsh punishments, as the facility was meant to break dangerous criminals of their habits. Because of the horror stories associated with the treatment of some of the criminals – a few ghost stories have developed over the years. In this article, you will learn about some of the tales told about hauntings on the island.

The Strip Cell was set aside for prisoners who did not follow the rules, which was found on the lower tier of D Block. The cell was made out of dark steel and inmates were made to take off all of their clothes before entering. They were fed water and bread one time per day with the occasional meal. At night, they slept on a mattress. To go to the bathroom, they used a hole in the floor of the cell. They had no use of a sink. When a criminal was in the Strip Cell, they had no contact with other inmates and spent their time in pitch black darkness in isolation. On the lower tier, the prison also had five 'hole' cells that were similar to the strip cell. Prisoners would be kept in solitude for up to 19 days in this section. The cells were equipped with a toilet, sink, light bulb and a mattress that was only available during the night.

Since the public was kept separate from the prison and its location on an island, inmates spoke of the ease for guards at Alcatraz to torture some of the prisoners. This type of treatment has stirred a handful of ghost tales involving bitter spirits that supposedly come back to the prison to haunt the grounds. A few include:

The Haunted Utility Corridor

The utility corridor is believed to be one of the most haunted places in Alcatraz. The paranormal activity is thought to stem from the failed inmate revolt that led to the deaths of three inmates that were shot to death. In 1976, a night security guard reported hearing unexplained eerie clanging sounds coming from inside the corridor.

Warden's Experience

During a tour around the prison, Warden Johnston, who had earned the nickname of The Golden Rule Warden," had an odd experience. He says that while he was walking with his group, he heard someone sobbing from inside the prison walls. A cold wind quickly passed by the group, and Johnston could never come up with a logical reason for the occurrence


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