On This Day in 1963 – Alcatraz is consigned to penal history.
Opened in August, 1934, the ‘United States Penitentiary, Alcatraz’ was born of high hopes and new ideas for confining and breaking America’s most serious offenders. It ended on this day in 1963 after less than thirty years amid acrimony, embarrassment, hypocrisy and a sense of failure among America’s penologists. It had been billed as ‘America’s…
On This Day in 1890 -Martha Place, the first woman in the electric chair.
Originally posted on Crimescribe: A free chapter from my book ‘Murders, Mysteries and Misdemeanors in New York,’ available now. Like many countries the US has an at times contradictory attitude to its death penalty, no more so than when a woman faces execution. Women account for fewer than 5% of death sentences in the US…
On This Day in 1941, Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles does the Half-Moon Hop.
Originally posted on Crimescribe: On the night of November 12, 1941. Abe “Kid Twist” Reles, once a senior member of Murder Inc. and now one of the most important canaries in American history, prepared a makeshift ladder from the sixth floor of the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island, New York. He was in protective…
Books, books, beautiful books.
Originally posted on Crimescribe: The following are available from bookstores and online: Murders, Mysteries and Misdemeanors in New York. Murders, Mysteries and Misdemeanors in Northern California. Murders, Mysteries and Misdemeanors in Southern California. Criminal Curiosities: Twelve Remarkable Reprobates you’ve Probably Never Heard Of. And my latest: Dark River: The Bloody Reign of the Ohio River…
Dark River : The Bloody Reign Of The Ohio River Pirates
Dark River tells a fascinating, and not well known, story of an age of the Western frontier (1770-1850). Social pressures spurred on by rapid western expansion and years of warfare became the breeding ground for violence. This atmosphere brought about the creation of a unique type of person. Those who would use the Ohio River…
Merle Haggard, James ‘Rabbit’ Kendrick, Caryl Chessman, Eddie Bunker and Johhny Cash.
Robbing a supermarket near Madera turned “Rabbit” into the “Safeway Bandit.” Already wanted for the escape, Kendrick racked up another ten felony charges in the two weeks he was at large. They ended with an eleventh charge—the first-degree murder of a police officer. The Safeway Bandit had become a cop-killer; soon, he would return to San Quentin a condemned cop-killer.
On This Day in 1957: Albert Anastasia, New York’s ‘Lord High Executioner,’ Murdered.
Originally posted on Crimescribe: Anastasia, murdered while getting a shave at New York’s Park Sheraton Hotel, was and remains one of the most callous and murderous criminals in American history. An illegal immigrant who jumped ship in 1919, he also jumped into New York’s underworld. Born into poverty in Parghelia, Italy in 1920 he would…
George Harsh – Great Escaper and the ‘Milwaukee Thrill Slayer.
Before George Rutherford Harsh, Jr. became a crucial member of the Great Escape he became the ‘Milwaukee Thrill Slayer,’ at least according to the Georgia newspapers. Shot down on a bombing raid over Cologne in 1943 while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force and a confirmed troublemaker in the eyes of his guards, Harsh…
On This Day in 1924 – Howard Hinton, Georgia’s first electrocution.
Originally posted on Crimescribe: The former Central State Prison Farm at Milledgeville, since demolished. It’s common to find ‘Peachtree Bandit’ Frank Dupre, armed robber and murderer executed on September 1, 1921 with Luke McDonald, listed as the last man to hang in Georgia. He wasn’t. That was Arthur Meyers, a murderer hanged at Augusta on…
On This Day in 1953 – France’s last inmates return from Devil’s Island.
Originally posted on Crimescribe: “The Bagne is a charnel house, a mass grave, running from syphilis to tuberculosis, with all the tropical diseases one can imagine (carrying malaria, ankylosis, amoebic dysentery, leprosy, etc.), all destined to work hand in hand with an Administration whose task it is to diminish the number of prisoners consigned to…