Excerpted from
Federal Offenders: 1936-37


In accordance with the planned program following organization of this institution, transfers of prisoners have been made from other penitentiaries. The transfers have been preceded by studies made by classification committees; and their complete reports with reasons for recommendations have been considered by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons before authorizing the transfers.

At the beginning of the period for which this report is made, July 1, 1936, we had a population of 261. During the year we received 81 prisoners by transfers from other institutions. During the same period there were 40 releases. There was a net gain of 41, bringing the population at the close of the fiscal year to 302.


Mr. C.J. Shuttleworth, Deputy Warden, was transferred to the position of Deputy Warden at the Leavenworth Penitentiary, effective close of business February 1, 1937. Mr. E.J. Miller was promoted from the position of Lieutenant to that of Deputy Warden.

During the year every custodial officer and four employees not on the custodial staff enrolled for the Prison Service Study Course, and every one enrolled completed the course with passing grades. All features of the course were carried out, with the exception of the physical training program, which was postponed due to the fact that the instructor did not reach this institution.

Every custodial officer and five other employees took the complete course of training in firearms, and every one enrolled qualified with every type of equipment. The scores were very high, quite a number of the staff qualifying as experts. [78]

As a result of the examinations held in December, 1936, three Lieutenants received an advance of one step in grade, 21 Junior Officers were advanced one step in grade, while 9 were advanced to the rating of Senior Officers and are now taking the advanced training course.


During the year there were no escapes and no attempts to escape, no strikes, outbreaks or anything requiring more than ordinary individual disciplinary action. The conduct of the prisoners has been good, most of them conforming to regulations and applying themselves to their allotted work with fair diligence and industry. In only two instances was it necessary to discipline prisoners by a forfeiture of goodtime credits that they might otherwise have earned by good conduct.


Parole Planning and Preparation.--This is not conducted on an extensive scale at this institution, since we have but a limited number of eligible cases. However, members of the Parole Board have visited the institution and held hearings on four occasions during the year.


As the population of this institution is made up of prisoners transferred from other Penitentiaries, we have the benefit of the studies made by the classification committees in the other institutions. The reports and recommendations are considered in connection with the inmate's needs and assignments and we keep the reports up-to-date by such additions as result from our observations and experiences with the inmate.

Correspondence Courses.--By arrangement with the University of California, Extension Division, a selected list of correspondence courses has been made available to all inmates. We began this work with a list of twelve courses, but because of the progress made by those who were studying, and the desire to stimulate additional interest in self-improvement, eight [79] more courses were added during the fiscal year. There are now 20 courses available, as here listed:

Poultry, Husbandry Government of the United States,
Vegetable Gardening Training for Citizenship,
English Grammar, Advanced Arithmetic,
Elementary Composition, Commercial Arithmetic,
Advanced English Grammar, Shop Arithmetic,
Business English, Advanced Shop Mathematics,
Elementary English Literature, Beginning Algebra,
Elementary French, Rudiments of Music,
Elementary Spanish, Appreciation of Music and
Beginning of Civilization, Harmony

During the year inmates submitted 1,075 reports by correspondence and completed 42 courses. At the close of the year 53 were enrolled and making good progress.

Vocational training is not carried on as a part of the school work, nor in classes, but a number of inmates receive practical trade training from experienced foremen who supervise their work in the maintenance shops and the industries.

Religious Services.--The Resident Chaplain is responsible for the arrangement and schedule of religious services, the supervision of the library, and carries on the educational and welfare work. Soon after an inmate arrives and while he is undergoing what might be termed "receiving treatment," he is interviewed by the Chaplain, who invites him to attend religious services and explains the opportunities for education and the way in which he may avail himself of the services of the library. The Resident Chaplain furnishes information concerning the religious training and preferences of the inmates to the Catholic Chaplain, who in like manner interviews inmates and encourages those of his faith to attend services. When requested, the Jewish Committee for Personal Service of San Francisco holds services for Jewish inmates.

Library.--It would be difficult to overestimate the important part that the library plays in the general welfare of the inmate body. A large part of every day is spent in cells, and a great deal of this time is used in reading. During the year we made some additions to our library, and at the close of the year we had a total of 9,475 books. The amount of reading can be judged by the figures on circulation, which show that during the year inmates drew from the library 23,061 books (16,229 were fiction and 6,839 non-fiction). During the same period there was a magazine circulation of 9,052 copies. [80]

Recreation.--Prisoners who have retained their privileges are allowed the use of the recreation yard on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings. Most of them participate in baseball, handball, and pitching horseshoes, while a number of others sit on the side lines and play chess, checkers, and dominoes. Another group prefer to spend their recreation time in studying music and developing talent along that line. This became so evident that when we made up our educational program, we added courses in Harmony, Rudiments of Music and Appreciation of Music.

Dining Hall Operation.--Since we do not oeprate a comissary, and do not permit any food or extras of any kind to be purchased by or sent in to prisoners, all inmates get the food that is prepared in the general kitchen. Food is served from steam tables on the cafeteria plan. Very careful attention is paid to the selection, preparation and serving of food. As inmates approach the steam table, they have opportunity to see what kinds of food are being served. They may take all the dishes that are available, or take some and leave others, but while they are given varied menus of wholesome food in ample servings, they are not permitted to waste food.


Medical and psychiatric services were furnished by the United States Public Health Service. The staff consisted of the Chief Medical Officer, Assistant Medical Officer, Administrative Assistant, 4 Guard Attendants, Visiting Dentist and Consultant (part-time) Psychiatrist.

Every newly admitted inmate was given three medical examinations within the first 30-day "observation period" after his arrival--the first, a careful preliminary survey at the time of his admission; the second, a thorough physical and laboratory study continued during at least the entire period; and third, a mental examination by the psychiatrist. Periodic routine re-examinations were made throughout the year, as well as special examinations whenever indicated. Systematic treatment was instituted whenever needed and every possible remedial procedure was carried into effect. The psychiatrist was [81] consulted in all cases of conduct disorder. The general health of the prisoners has been good. There were no deaths during the year.


Under the guidance of the Federal Prison Industries, Incorporated, we operate a Laundry, Mat Factory, Clothing Factory, Model Shop and Dry Cleaning Plant. Our Laundry serves the United States transports and the United States Army posts in the San Francisco Bay area. While the Dry Cleaning Plant may be rated as a separate industry, it is somewhat in the nature of an adjunct to the Laundry, drawing its business from the same source and from the Penitentiary personnel. The Transport laundry is generally classed as bulk work and that received from the Army posts as bundle work, but it is all handled in the Laundry on a weight basis. During the year the Laundry handled 1,047,835 pounds.

The Mat Factory has been established since the Island came under the control of the Department of Justice, and for a comparatively new industry is active and successful in making mats for the Navy Department, all of our orders coming from the war ships located on the Pacific Coast.

Up to the present time production at the Clothing Factory is used in institutions under control of the Bureau of Prisons. Inmates are being trained in the making of uniform clothing, civilian clothing for prisoners being released, and uniforms for custodial officers.

The Model Shop is very small, but provides useful work for a number of inmates who are employed in making furniture for this institution and reconditioning furniture, which may be discarded by one agency of the government and made ready for use in another department.

The industries afford occupation for the inmates and in some cases enable them to secure trade training. A check of the population on June 30, 1937 shoed 37.4 per cent of the population engaged in tasks that are classified as maintenance and 56.3 per cent employed in industries. The latter were so distributed as not to have an undue proportion in any one industry. [82]


During the year we added new equipment and made repairs and improvements to various parts of the plant and installed many protective devices and measures. The Power House and Boiler Plant were completely overhauled. Old boilers were removed and two new boilers installed, each with a capacity of 420 H.P., giving a total boiler capacity at the present time of 840 H.P. as compared with 600 H.P. of the old plant before the change was made. In connection with the revamping of the Power House we installed a new sump and pump for drawing salt water from the bay for use in cellhouse sanitation.

Following safety inspection and report and recommendations, elevators in the Model Shop, Laundry and from Dock to Storeroom were repaired. Guards were placed on machines in various shops. Guard rails were installed on stairways, protective railings at various elevations, particularly near residences, and protective netting near the balconies of employees' apartments. At several points on the Island concrete walls and pilasters have been constructed to repair and check slides due to erosion. The seawall has been protected with rip rap and concrete blocks.

Various measures have been taken and improvements made for greater custodial safety. The Armory has been inclosed with bullet-proof glass. An alarm siren has been installed on the roof of the administration building subject to control from the Armory. The built-in gas system installed in the dining hall and at the entrance gate administration building has been tested and reshelled. New radio equipment was installed giving better connections with the Coast Guard, with the San Francisco and Berkeley Police Departments, with our own launch while in operation, and through ship-to-shore telephone system.

The officers of the institution have shown great interest in the "in-service" training. They are very attentive to their duties and cooperative in carrying out the plans formulated and the routine established for the conduct of this institution as a part of the federal Prison System.

[FEDERAL OFFENDERS 1936-37:pp. 77-82]