Weekly Reads: Alcatraz from Inside

Emily Dickinson // The Watchdog.

“I believe that my life proves no man is beyond rehabilitation, regardless of how far he has fallen from respectability in the eyes of society.”

— Jim Quillen, “Alcatraz from Inside”

Have you heard of Alcatraz? The ultimate maximum security prison found just off the shore of San Francisco? Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be imprisoned in a top-notch security prison?

Jim Quillen shares his story of being sentenced to 45 years in Alcatraz at the age of 22. As readers, we get a glimpse into what it looks like to be imprisoned.

Quillen shares his childhood trauma and how it influenced him into the life decisions he made. He shares how the first time he stole was by mistake and how that one time gave him the desire to steal again. “Alcatraz From Inside” leads us through each prison Quillen visited until he was finally sentenced to Alcatraz. He explains the hopelessness one feels while imprisoned and the time one has to reflect.

This memoir journeys through different historical events, such as the Battle of Alcatraz in 1946, and introduces readers to historical prisoners such as the “Birdman.”

I felt this to be a very important book to read, and I highly recommend it. It educated me on the prison and justice system from an inside perspective. “Alcatraz From Inside” also teaches us how to value the freedom we have. The main takeaway being: no matter how far we have fallen, we can always write a story of redemption.

For more book recommendations, check out the rest of the Watchdog’s Weekly Reads series, including more books themed around World War II.