The Strange Reality Of Life As An Inmate In Alcatraz

From the day Alcatraz first opened its doors in 1934 to the day facilities closed in 1963, it was an absolutely deplorable place to be incarcerated. Yet, for some reason, a lot of criminals actually requested the 22-acre island penitentiary in the San Francisco Bay as their spot for lockup. Alcatraz was unlike any prison that came before or after it, and authorities followed some unusual rules to keep the country's most dangerous crooks in line. Would you be able to last one night on The Rock?

1. Higher standards than other prisons

Not just any petty crook could wind up at The Rock. Being sent to Alcatraz meant you were considered an extremely violent criminal — one of the worst. Because of this, the prison staff created strict standards for inmates to maintain, like cell tidiness and limited contact with fellow prisoners or anyone else. It was truly unlike any other facility on the planet.

2. More privacy than usual

Alcatraz could hold up to 330 men, each of whom was housed in his own individual cell. This allowed prisoners some privacy, but was hard on those who craved human contact and sociability. Infamous gangster Machine Gun Kelly loved the Rock because he wouldn't be killed in his sleep by another inmate looking to get famous.

3. Barely any time outside

There were four different cell blocks: A through C (which boasted five by nine-foot cells) and D block, for those in solitary confinement. The only time those prisoners could leave their room was during a weekly visit to a recreation yard. Those who defied authority on The Rock, however, had their recreation privileges ripped away from them.

4. In the hole

And not being allowed outside the concrete walls could certainly take its toll, probably more than we realize. Those in the D block could remain there for days or even weeks. "A day in the hole was like an eternity,” Jim Quillen, former Alcatraz inmate said. It was enough to make the most mentally stable person question his sanity after a while.