The Return Address Controversy
Protest Letter
by Samuel Charles Berlin

From: Samuel Charles Berlin
Alcatraz Island, California

June 12, 1939
To: The Honorable Attorney General of the United States

Washington, D.C.

The Honorable Frank Murphy
The Attorney General of the United States
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:

Your attention is respectfully invited to the following request, that:

The ruling dated June 1, 1939, ordering inmates of United States Penal and Correctional Institutions to place their names and numbers over the return address on outgoing envelopes, be abolished because this rule works hardships on the inmates by advertising the fact that they are inmates of a Federal Institution and may endanger the livelihood and welfare of the recipients of such mail by advertising their relationships with the inmate.

This rule may be construed as saying "You may write two letters a week but if you do you must advertise on the front of the envelope that you are an inmate of Alcatraz and of course it follows that you must advertise that your sister, mother or brother has a brother or son in Alcatraz.

The Honorable Attorney General will see from the above that the inmate is being coerced into refusing to write and this coercion springs from the fear of causing the correspondents to lose their jobs and respect of their neighbors and associates by reason of their relations with the inmate.

Further this rule, lessens the chances of the inmates rehabilitation by causing him to lose the friends and relatives who might help him to beat his way back to being a good citizen, because they will sever relations rather than face the precarius position, in which such relationship places them.

In view of the above will the Honorable Attorney General favor the undersigned and other inmates by revoking this rule and thus remedying situation that works hardships that is pointless and does not create any good.

Your Honor the writer of this letter is a World war veteran with an Honorable discharge from the Navy and as a First offender is now serving an indeterminate sentence of 3 to 15 years. I have now spent four and a half years in Alcatraz which is inconsistent with my sentence which should be served in one of the Institutions of the District of Columbia with benefits of Rehabilitation.

Respectfully submitted

Samuel Charles Berlin
Reg. No. 233