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Inside Alcatraz: My Time on the Rock

Inside Alcatraz: My Time on the Rock - Jim Quillen An interesting account of one man's time in one of the most notorious prisons in the Western world. Jim Quillen's recounting of the events of the infamous escape attempt of 1946 is particularly important as it attempts to redress the balance somewhat, with an inmate's view of the events that happened, which, of course, differ very much from the accepted view peddled by the authorities. Yes, of course, Jim is always going to see the affair through the eyes of an inmate - it would be very difficult not to - but it does supply a certain amount of balance to the overall story of those events and allows the prisoners held in Alcatraz a certain voice that hadn't been readily available before.

Ultimately this is an easy-going read - not too demanding, the writing style is simple and uncomplicated. Personally I would have liked to have read a little bit more about his post criminal life, and the ending seems a bit rushed as a result. But Jim's rehabilitation does reveal a humanity rarely seen in books of this kind, and I have to admit a certain amount of joy at reading about the way he turned his life around. The book also acts as a prime example of how criminal rehabilitation is a goal any civilised society should aspire to, rather than the senseless idea of punishment for it's own sake as revenge and nothing else.