8/11/2017

Stay Out of Jail


What motivates one to commit a crime?

Whenever I read about hardened convicts who commit crimes and are sent to jail, unmindful of the harm they had inflicted upon man and society, I am stumped.

Son #1 has this simplistic answer: they have no conscience.

I asked this question again when daughter-in-law, G, graciously took Tony and me to the infamous Alcatraz, also called The Rock, in San Francisco.

She’d been there a few times, but for us, she took the trip again.  I was there, too, once long ago, but not Tony.

So we headed to the once-impenetrable prison island, but closed in 1963, when three prisoners escaped through an elaborate route that took the guards by surprise. They were never caught nor found. Many believed they had died. But as late as 2015, there were reports that they survived the escape and may still be alive.

Today, there are earphones that enable guests to listen to the history of the place, highlighted by interviews and actual re-enactment of escape attempts, complete with sound effects.

This made me realize how dangerous it must have been for the wardens to supervise hardened criminals, whose devious minds were preoccupied with escaping or causing trouble.

The riots and escape attempts have been documented or romanticized in many movies and books. G bought me one in the gift shop, because author/historian Jolene Babyak was there in person, book signing. Her bio says she grew up in Alcatraz as her father was one of the associate wardens of the penitentiary. I turned into a fan.

“Breaking the Rock” is well researched—an exciting read. A bit pricey, as new books usually are anywhere in the world, but with the author’s signature, I feel it is worth more than its cost.

Visiting the penitentiary gives one the creeps, especially if you let your imagination run wild. It is not a happy place. It’s more like an ugly scar of a gaping wound that took years to heal. 

If I may add to son #1’s comment . . . the inhabitants of those cells looked the other way and ignored the grace that would have kept them out of jail.

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