Apparently it's a great read for those who have burning questions about what life inside the prison was like.
But my one burning question is: What were you in for?
Am I in the gift shop with a murderer, rapist or other?
|Alcatraz from San Francisco|
Then other questions pop into my head.
Am I able to fling this stand of t-shirts over to defend myself? Will this tower of souvenir mugs make suitable projectile weapons? And just how strong are these Alcatraz key rings; could they be makeshift knuckle busters?
I'm clearly the only one thinking these things as the line get this prisoner's autograph is getting longer.
There's a special irony to the fact that this prisoner, who no doubt longed for the day he would escape Alcatraz, is back here voluntarily making a buck off his experience.
As the saying goes: those who break the rules go to prison, those who break prison rules go to Alcatraz.
Today, Alcatraz has transcended from being a mere former prison to a symbol of captivity and inescapable hell.
|View from the inside|
The place stopped being a prison in the 1960s, and a couple of decades of degeneration add to the bleak and oppressive atmosphere.
But I'm surprised by what a lovely view it offers of San Francisco, it's bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. A view that no doubt taunted the prisoners and reminded them of everything they were missing out on.
|Inside a cell|
|Rows of prison cells|
The prisoners' only taste of the outdoors was a relatively small, concreted "recreation space" - complete with water views.
|The recreation space|
An American Indian occupation from 1969 to 1971 turned the spotlight on native rights, while today more than 5,000 people a day visit the Alcatraz as a tourist attraction (that's more than double the number of prisoners who ever spent time here during the decades of its operation as a prison).
You certainly get a sense of its popularity while waiting in the lengthy lines to board to the island ferry and to walk through the prison buildings.
Needless to say, there's a certain Alcatraz allure that keeps people coming... and lining up to talk to its former prisoners.