Daily Routine of Work and Counts

Each Alcatraz prisoner and guard was expected to know the exact details of the following routine:

6:30 a.m.:
Morning gong. Prisoners arise, make beds, place all articles in prescribed order on shelf, clean wash basin and toilet bowl, wipe off bars, sweep cell floor, fold table and seat against the wall, wash themselves, and dress.

6:45 a.m.:
Detail guards assigned for mess hall duty; they take their positions so as to watch the prisoners coming out of cells and prepare to march into the mess hall with them. The guards supervise the serving and the seating of their details, give the signal to start eating, and the signal to rise after eating.

6:50 a.m.:
Second morning gong; the prisoners stand by the door facing out and remain there until the whistle signal, during which time the lieutenants and cell house guards of both shifts make the count. When the count is found to be correct, the lieutenant orders the cells unlocked.

6:55 a.m.:
Whistle signal given by deputy warden or lieutenant; all inmates step out of their cells and stand erect facing mess hall. Upon the second whistle, all inmates on each tier close up in single file upon the head man.

7:00 a.m.:
Third whistle signal; lower right tier of block 3 and lower left tier of block 2 move forward into mess hall, each line is followed in turn by the second and the third tiers, then by the lower tier on the opposite side of their block, followed by the second and the third tiers from the same side. The block 3 line moves into the mess hall, keeping to the left of the center of the mess; block 2 goes forward at the same time, keeping to the right. Both lines proceed to serving the table; the right line served from the right and occupies the tables on the right; the left line to the left, etc. As each man is served, he will sit erect with his hands at his sides until the whistle signal is given for the first detail to begin eating.

Twenty minutes are allowed for eating. When they are finished eating, the prisoners place their knives, forks, and spoons on their trays; the knife at the left, the fork in center, and the spoon on the right side of the tray. They then sit erect with their hands down at their sides. After all of the men have finished eating, a guard walks to each table to see that all utensils are in their proper place. He then returns to his position.

7:20 a.m.:
Upon signal from deputy warden, the first detail in each line arises and proceeds through the rear entrance door of the cell house to the recreation yard. Inside detail, or those not assigned any detail, proceed to their work or cells.

7:25 a.m.:
Guards and their details move out in the following order through the rear gates:

  1. Laundry.
  2. Tailor shop.
  3. Cobblers.
  4. Model Shop.
  5. All other shops.
  6. Policing, gardening, and labor details.
The guards go ahead through the rear gates and stand opposite the rear gate guard. There they count prisoners passing through the gate in single file and clear the count with the rear-gate guard. The detail stops at the foot of the steps on the lower level road and forms into two ranks. The guard faces them to the right and proceeds to the shops, keeping himself in the rear of his detail. Upon arrival in the front of the shops, the detail halts and faces the shop entrance.

7:30 a.m.:
Rear-gate guard makes up detailed count slip, phones it to the lieutenant of the watch, signs it, and proceeds with it to the lieutenant's office.

9:30 a.m.:
Rest period during which the men are allowed to smoke in places permitted, but are not allowed to congregate.

9:38 a.m.:
Foreman or the guard gives whistle signal; all of the men on each floor of the shops assemble at a given point and are counted, and return immediately to work. This assembly and count is quickly done, the count is written on a slip of paper, signed by the foreman or guard, and then turned over to the lieutenant making his next round.

11:30 a.m.:
Prisoners stop work and assemble in front of the shops. The count is taken by the foreman or the guard. The foreman phones in the count and signs the count slip, turning it over to the guard, who proceeds with the detail to the rear gate and checks his detail in with the rear-gate guard.

11:35 a.m.:
In the recreation yard, the mess hall line is immediately formed in the same order as in the morning. The details proceed in the same lines to the mess hall.

11:40 a.m.:
Dinner routine is the same as for breakfast, except at the completion of dinner, when the details immediately proceed to the cells.

12:00 noon:
Noon lockup cell count; the detail guards remain in front of the cells until the prisoners are locked up and the count made.

12:20 p.m.:
Unlock and proceed the same as before going to breakfast, except that the prisoners march in single file into the yard 3 cellblock first. Shop details again form in front of their guards.

12:25 p.m.:
Details are checked out of the rear gate the same as in the morning.

12:30 p.m.:
Details enter the shops and are counted by the foreman and the guard. Procedures are the same as at 7:30 a.m.

2:30 p.m.:
Rest period; the procedure and count are the same as in the morning.

4:15 p.m.:
Work stopped; the procedure and count are the same as at 11:30 a.m.

4:20 p.m.:
Prisoners enter the rear gate, with count.

4:25 p.m.:
Prisoners march into the mess hall, with count.

4:45 p.m.:
Prisoners return to their cells.

4:50 p.m.:
Final lockup.

5:00 p.m.:
Standing count in the cells by both shifts of the lieutenants and the cell house men.

8:00 p.m.:
Count in the cells.

9:30 p.m.:
Lights out count.

12:01 a.m.:
Count by the lieutenants and the cell house men of both shifts.

3:00 a.m.:
Count in the cells.

5:00 a.m.:
Count in the cells.

A total of 13 official counts are made each 24 hours. In addition, shop foremen make 6 verification counts.

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