The Return Address Controversy
Protest Letter
by Herbert Alvin Stanley

From: Herbert Alvin Stanley
Alcatraz Island, California

June 14, 1939
To: Hon. Frank Murphy, Attorney General

Washington, D.C.

Hon. Sir:

Inclosed herewith is an addressed envelope and letter directed to my mother, which I attempted to mail to her; a note written by a prison official; a request slip to the associate Warden; a slip stating forth special instructions, which was placed in my cell on the 11th day of June, 1939. The above-mentioned articles are self-explanatory.

Mr. Murphy, I most respectfully ask you to help me in this matter, and I am not thinking of my convenience, but of my mother. I believe that you do not entertain any desire to cause any of my family personal grief because of the fact that I am here in Alcatraz prison, and believing as I do I can without impertinence to you or to your authority ask why it is necessary to place my name on the outside of the envelope when my official number would be sufficient.

It seems to me this official number would be proper and it most certainly would not give cause to hurt and embarass my darling mother and loved ones, as my name would.

In the extreme prejudice and notority with which the prison is regarded by the public, my name on the envelope might cause my brother to loose his job and he is certainly an honorable man and a respected citizen, and supports our darling mother.

Neighbors gossip about neighbors and not only what I have stated here but many other things could and would happen to embarass my mother by my name being written there for everyone to read along with Alcatraz Island.

I respectfully ask you to consider this matter not to help me, but to stop something that will do harm to and cause grief to my mother and loved-ones.

I feel this request is meritorious, and since I saw you when you passed through here; your inclination to smile and speak prompts me to write this letter verily believing you will help my mother.

Most respectfully requested, and I am, Sir, sincerely yours,

Herbert Alvin Stanley, #406