Rumors of Alcatraz's closure may have prompted the increase in transfers in the year ending June 30, 1940. The high level of transfers in the year ending June 30, 1942 are probably due to the review program implemented after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Prisoners who were considered to be at risk in the event of an invasion were moved to other institutions.
The most common destination for transfers was the Federal Medical Penitentiary at Springfield, Missouri. This was particularly so after the 1936 deaths of Joe Bowers (shot by a guard) and Ed Wutke (suicide).
Alcatraz Releases 1933 - 1948
The most common court ordered release was a writ of habeas corpus, applications for which became common after the 1937 Johnson vs. Zerbst decision. Such writs were filed, in accordance with court procedure, against Warden Johnston as the keeper of the prisoner.
Alcatraz Prison Population Fluctuations 1936 - 1948
During the early 1940's, rumors of Alcatraz's closure followed by concerns about a Japanese attack on San Francisco led to a reduction in transfers to the Rock and a depopulation of those inmates who might have been a problem in the event of an invasion. As war fears calmed, transfers to Alcatraz increased.
Although the Alcatraz penitentiary was able to house 336 convicts in cells that measured around 10 by 4.5 feet (3 by 1.5 metres), no more than 250 prisoners ever occupied the island at one time.
Black inmates had their cells clustered together away
from white inmates, sat at separate tables in the mess hall, kept to themselves in
the Alcatraz recreation yard and had separate work locations.
For example, for many years in the Alcatraz laundry, white inmates worked
downstairs, while black inmates worked upstairs, on the second floor.
Even hair cutting was racially segregated, with white inmates cutting white
inmates' hair and black inmates cutting black inmates' hair. Eventually there was some racial integration at Alcatraz Prison.
Alcatraz Deaths 1935 - 1948
To these numbers should be added the three prison guards who were killed during escape attempts. Officer Royal Cline was killed by Rufus Franklin, Jimmy Lucas and Thomas Limmerick in 1938. Officers Miller and Stites fell during the 1946 Alcatraz Blast-Out. Stites is generally believed to have been accidentally shot by other guards.
Nine of these fatalities died during escape attempts: Joe Bowers (1936); Ted Cole and Ralph Roe (1937 - included in 1938);, Thomas Limmerick (1938); Arthur "Doc" Barker (1939); James Boarman (1943); Bernard Paul Coy, Marvin Hubbard, and Joseph Paul Cretzer (1946). Two other prisoners, Miran Thompson and Sam Shockley were executed in December 1948. They were included in the statistics for the year ending June 30, 1949.