Posts Tagged With: prison

A Walk To Indian Hill…

Mary is no longer available for RV traveling, but we remain good friends.
Because we have 4,000+ postings, I’ve invited her to continue posting entries on this blog.
I’m currently in my 21st year of full-time RVing and my lifestyle is changing, For more info click Here

The motorhome is parked at the Paradise Casino in Yuma, Arizona. I expect to depart here January 10th.


This blog was first posted in January, 2012…


A short distance from my current parking spot at the Paradise Casino in Yuma, Arizona is a very famous small rise of land known as Indian Hill. Atop of this hill sits the St. Thomas Indian Mission.This is a very famous hill for on the other side of the mission and not seen in these below photos is the site of Old Fort Yuma which guarded the Yuma River Crossing many years ago. Back in those days this location was the only place to cross the then mighty Colorado River for hundreds of miles.


As always you can click a photo to see an enlarged view…click it again for an even larger view.






Here’s the view from my dining room window…






Even though We’ve both been there a number of times, two days ago my friend Randy and I went for a walk to the top of the hill. I brought my camera along to show you the views. Along the way I took this shot overlooking a small park. In the distance to the left you can see the visitors center for the remains of the Old Yuma Territorial Prison which is located on the banks of the Colorado River. To the right of the prison you can see the old railroad bridge first built in 1877. The river has taken away the bridge a number of times. the current bridge was built in 1923…





Once atop the hill…looking back to the left you can see the Paradise Casino and parking lot…






In the next zoom photo you can see the motorhome and Bronco. It’s the rig furthest in the back on the right…






Next a 180 degree panorama shot with the Colorado River on the left…






Finally a shot looking over the Colorado River at the City of Yuma, Arizona…the sunniest spot in the United States…






Yesterday we took another walk through the marshes and along the river. Here are four more photos. First two lower views of Indian Hill and the mission…











Then looking across the Colorado into Arizona and the old Yuma Territorial Prison…






And finally the Colorado River under the railroad bridge…




I hope you enjoyed the photos.

 Yesterday was partly sunny and 69 degrees. Forecast for today is partly sunny and 68 degrees.

Enjoying nice weather is another joy in the life of a full-time RVer!

The red dot on the below map shows my approximate location in the State of Arizona. You may double left-click the map to make it larger…


Enjoying 65-75 degree temperatures with low humidity most of the year is a primary joy in the RVing lifestyle!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”…Albert Einstein


My current travel rig is a 2006 Fleetwood 26′ Class A Motorhome and a towed 1986 Ford Bronco II, Eddie Bauer Model. This photo was taken in the desert at Slab City near Niland, California…


On October 27, 2012, I created a two-minute video titled America The Beautiful. The music America The Beautiful is by Christopher W. French. The photos, which I randomly selected, are from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia (not shown in that order)…are mine. Yup, That’s me standing in front of the Post Office in Luckenbach, Texas…Y’all!

Click this link to start the video. Make sure you have your speakers turned on and go to full screen asap.

If you would like to see my YouTube videos, click this link…

There are more than 700 photo albums in my Picasa Web Albums File. To gain access, you simply have to click this link…

If you have not checked out my Ramblin Man’s Photos Blog, you can do so by clicking this link…

For more information about my books, click this link:

All original works copyrighted – Jim Jaillet -2016

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If you drive by the prison, cells gouged from the south wall are visible from the road, along with the Mission Church Steeple and the two famous bridges that cross the once mighty Colorado River. Though we visited the prison on a previous visit, we decided to do it again.

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The prison is now a state park and when you look over the edge from above, the territory around the river is wild;  sand, river bed, desert stretching all the way to Mexico and even horseback riders on this day. Three-Ten to Yuma was filmed here.

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Inmates built the prison cell block by cell block after the first building was built in 1875, approved by the legislature as a territorial prison, since Arizona was not yet a state. This edifice was actually a well, once covered by planks, then later electricity was used to pump water. Later still, Covered over and a guard tower erected on top of it. The well and electricity gave the place a reputation as being a country club.

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While true, the prisoners were also correct in calling it a Hell Hole.

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Still, inmates desperate to escape, tried many times to do so. Some made it. Most failed.

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Territorial law was harsh.

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Otherwise law abiding citizens, yes, but no prostitutes were arrested, the type of woman men appreciated.

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The sister, who was single, was not arrested.

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As consenting adults, we take our freedoms for granted.


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After several many times serving in solitary for breaking prison rules, and two escape attempts, inmate C.E. Hobard finally settled in and served his life term for murder. DSC02724 (Copy)

He worked all day in the quarry, building more cells; during his spare time he made beautiful lace. Several shops on the grounds gave inmates the opportunity to make and sell things. If they couldn’t make a tin cup, for instance, they did without a cup. Draconian.

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There were some real bad guys. Leslie worked with Wyaat Earp at the Oriental Bar in Tombstone. He killed Billy Clairborne of the Clanton Gang. He killed his girlfriend in a drunken rage. Earp claimed Leslie was the only gunman who could compare with the speed and accuracy of Doc Holiday with a six-gun.  Yet, he only served 10 years of his life term. DSC02815 (Copy)

The original bunks were wooden, but lice and bedbugs were so endemic, they changed them to metal.DSC02798 (Copy)

Adding to the hell hole of discomfort, hard metal beds, open cells like this were ventilated during Yuma’s hot summers, even if metal doors heated up to the point you could burn yourself to touch one. But during winter, you froze at night. Other open-on-one-end cells were deadly hot in summer, but a bit warmer at night and winter. A perfect lose, lose.

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Punishments, if obeyed by administrators, were simple but also harsh. The ball and chain confinement in a solitary cell, or the Dark Cell. An unlighted area, no toilets, no change of clothing, multiple people chained to the steel grid on the floor at the same time, with no light nor ability to lie down. One man served 102 days in this cell and came out a model prisoner. Two women served time in this cell for breaking rules.  Stinkin’ brutal.

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The prison is a fascinating place to visit. They have a gunfighters gathering on the grounds the first two weekends of January that was a wonderfully costumed competition we attended in 2011, I believe. It is worth planning your visit during that event.

When the prison closed, it was used by various organizations, most notably, a High School, and later a home for people displaced during the depression.

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The High School Mascot was the Crims, for criminals. Don’t miss the historic Territorial Prison tour when you visit Yuma.

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In an hour, I leave for the Alameda County Sheriffs Archive where they are having a ceremony to dedicate the rebuilding and moving of an old jail Guard Tower. It was rebuilt, retaining as much of the original materials as possible, about 1990 or so. The Association decided it needed replacing because part of the flooring had completely rotted out. But, more on that when I return.

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Over the years, I’ve learned there are very few Police Museums in the United States, mainly because there are destroy orders for just about everything related to police work once they have passed a certain date. We are lucky to have accumulated and pulled together artifacts and history of the people and procedures of law enforcement in the County of Alameda. We are also fortunate that we’ve had the permission and support of the reigning Sheriff along the way, who was Sheriff Plummer when we started in 1989 and current Sheriff, Ahern, now.  All volunteers work and assesssion the archive materials, refurbish artifacts and display them for posterity.  Sitting on the “pattern” table, an old store fixture donated to us, is a pepper fogger, refurbished by Les Moore. It sprays tear gas at an advancing mob and was used during the civil unrest of the 1970’s. When the retired deputies get together and talk they remember the first time they used it, the wind shifted and they ended up gassing themselves. (It is only funny now.)

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This cycle shield and calling cards were donated to the archive in 2012. We still don’t have much of a history on Berdoo. The Angels and the Cops have a checkered history. They knew each other by first names because the encounters were so frequent. The Angels got started in Alameda County and riders today still like to imitate their “bad guy” persona. The Angels have cleaned up their act in recent years. An interesting story if someone could write it. Sonny Barger wrote his memoirs and it was loaned to my husband, (who arrested Sonny more than once), by the wife of Angel Magoo. Magoo died young and my kids went to high school with their kids and they are still friends today. Magoo’s wife, Lynn Tinsley, and a couple of her brothers also rode with the Angels. She wanted to raise her kids away from that reputation and did. She died in about 2004.

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Because we are on a former military base, Camp Shoemaker, the department inherited many items from the military including the nickname for their brig, Greystone. Greystone became the punishment detention area for the jail. Old Santa Rita was torn down and rebuilt in 1985 as a prison, a jail no longer, a complete lock-down facility. We are there to document the changes from its inception in 1948, under Sheriff Gleason. Gleason was sheriff when I was hired in 1958, and I’ve known every sheriff since then. This has been and is an interesting project that my husband (since deceased)  and I started in 1988.

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Impressions Of A Book I Really Enjoyed…

My last Blog entry about Palmyra Island also known as Palmyra Atoll was written on September 15th, 2011. In case you missed it, here’s the link…

Arriving at Mary’s home in Murphys, California on October 11th, I found my copy of Palmyra: The True Story of an Island Tragedy written by Wesley Walker…the man convicted of the murder…waiting for me. All 895, 6×9, pages of it. I immediately started reading the book and only yesterday completed it. For the record…I thought I would record my impressions of his book.

My very first impression at the start of reading the book was…unless you had read the book written by Vincent Bugliosi and Bruce Henderson…And The Sea Will Tell…you would be hard-pressed to tell what this book was about.

Facing a life in prison sentence he decided to try his hand at writing. He had already written three fiction novels…when on page 419 in his book Walker writes…

“Then I read the great hoax of a book by two sleaze-artists (meaning Bugliosi and Henderson) of a different order, allowing the full import of the insult to my intelligence to sink in. Overflowing with self-righteous anger, I spent the next three years transferring furious words to some 2500 pages of a reply. My trial alone covered 820 pages.” Then an incident occurred which caused him to think “Let’s settle the hash of those clowns, finish the unfinished business of the past. We’re near our rocking chairs on the front porch and we need tranquil minds to enjoy the view. And so I returned for a last visit, to relive it all, retell it yet again. To remember.” That’s when he sat down to write what became his book…Palmyra: The True Story of an Island Tragedy.

As I started to read….another immediate impression was he was far more literate than I had imagined him to be. All my previous impressions of Wesley Walker came from one source…Vincent Bugliosi and Bruce Henderson’s book…And The Sea Will Tell. They painted him as a low-life con artist.

The book was easy to read and very interesting. I found I enjoyed his writing style and really started to like the guy.

An interesting aside…during a period of time when he was an escaped felon…he was arrested at the Torch Lite Motel on Fourth Avenue in Yuma, Arizona. That motel is about one block from where I park the motorhome while in Yuma…at the American Legion. I have actually walked through the parking lot of that motel.

He spends lots of pages describing his life and lifestyles. For some period of time he was a sophisticated marijuana farmer. He seemed to have a really laid-back attitude and as I read I pictured him with the face of Willie Nelson.

Here’s a 1974 photo of Walker the Honolulu Star-Bulletin…

Here are some other interesting items from his book…

Page 294 and 295…

“Lawyers are the ones who always win, whether or not they win or lose cases. Unfortunately, poor people do not have the luxury of being permitted to make decisions about the quality of counsel, whether to consider fees or reputation. In our system, the judge has the prerogative of choosing you lawyer for you. The best lawyers simply do not appear on judge’s lists of lawyers to be appointed. Only the names of young and desperate lawyers are on the judge’s lists, and if they remain there long, it’s a sure sign they are not in demand. It’s the hack lawyers last refuge before chasing ambulances or going on welfare and drink. And thus, my lawyer Earle Partington was appointed. Partington could have done better by learning a new trade and doing honest work for a living.”

Page 299…

“Although I had long known it on some vague level never quite verbalized, later, when I had all the time in the world to contemplate the basic questions that would torture me, I would come to the firm conclusion that there was a vast difference between justice for the poor and for those who could afford it.”

Page 404…

After he is found guilty, the Federal Marshall who had been his guard all during the trial said to Walker…”If you ask me, your lawyers were the best thing the prosecution had going.”

My conclusions…

Walker spent 22 years in prison. He had lots of time to think about everything in his life. He does an excellent job telling us about his life. He does a particularly good job describing what life is like as a fugitive running from the law as well what life is like as a prisoner in a maximum security prison. He also reviews every flaw in his trial and goes on to tell…in his words…what really happened at Palmyra.

What really happened at Palmyra..according to Walker? I’m not telling. I wouldn’t want to spoil your reading of this book!  🙂

I really enjoyed his book and it will go into my “books to be re-read” box. It’s a really good book if you enjoy this kind of reading.

I have no affiliation with the publisher. Here’s the link I used to order the book…

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
For more information about my three books, click this link:

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We Visit The Museum At The Largest Maximum Security Prison In The United States…

Jim says: Yesterday Mary and I drove the Bronco about 25 miles from St. Francisville to the site of Louisiana’s Angola State Prison which houses over 5,000 inmates, has a staff of about 1,800 and is situated on 18,000 acres surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River. We spent about two hours at this very well done museum.

Here’s a Google Earth view of the area.
Here’s a photo of a photo in the museum.
The front gate.
The inmates nicknamed the Electric Chair “Gruesome Gertie”.
I lifted this ball and it was REALLY HEAVY!
The cell of today.
Sweatshirts and tee-shirts sport this saying in the gift shop.
Bert Dixon manned the Museum’s gift shop. He told me his father C.C. Dixon worked at the prison for 33 years. His son Johnny Bert Dixon has been at the prison for about 20 years. When I asked Bert what his job was during his 31.5 years at the prison, he replied “I ran Bloodhounds for a while and retired as Chief of Field Security.”

To see the other 50 photos I took, click this link…

Here’s some fact about Angola courtesy of…
The Louisiana State Penitentiary, surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River and the rugged Tunica Hills on the fourth, is located in West Feliciana Parish, 59 miles northwest of the state capitol of Baton Rouge. The nearest town is St. Francisville, 22 miles away.

The prison was officially created January 1, 1901 when the state resumed control of the prisoners leased to private profiteers for the preceding 55 years. Better known as “Angola,” it is the state’s only maximum security prison, manned by an army of 1,800 employees with an operating budget of $83,113,734 for the current fiscal year. The Warden is N. Burl Cain.

As of September 13, 1998-2006, there were 5,133 men confined in Louisiana State Penitentiary – 77.8 percent (3,996) were black and 22 percent (1,128) white, with an average age of 35.9. Only 44 prisoners were younger than 20. In fact, the 1,240 inmates under age 30 constitute only 24.2 percent of the Angola population. Those in their thirties (1,711) comprise 33.3 percent . But 42.4 percent of the population (2,182) is over the age of 40.

More than half (3,000, of 58.4 percent ) of the total population are lifers. Those serving terms of 20 years or more are the second-largest group of prisoners (1,556, or 30.3 percent). Their average sentence length is 49.75 years, making most of them “virtual” lifers because their earliest release date exceeds their lifespan. Combined with the lifers, they constitute a group of 4,556 prisoners, 88.7 percent of the inmate population. An additional 82 condemned men (1.6 percent) await death by lethal injection.

Angola prisoners are mostly city boys (72.8 percent), coming from the state’s 10 urban parishes. The remaining 27.2 percent of the inmates (1,392) came from its 54 rural parishes. More than half (2,725, or 53.1 percent) were incarcerated by only three parishes: Orleans (1,556 or 30.3 percent), East Baton Rouge (585, or 11.4 percent), and Jefferson (584, or 11.4 percent).

Violent criminals make up 87 percent of Angola’s population. those convicted of homicide ( murder, manslaughter, vehicular or negligent homicide ) number 2,359, or 46 percent of the men serving time here. Robbery was the second most common crime (1,114, or 21.7 percent). The third largest group of prisoners are here for the crime of rape (845, or 16.5 percent).

More than one-third (1,977, or 38.5 percent ) are first offenders’ 1435 (27.9 percent), second offenders; 983 (19.1 percent), third offenders’ 432 (8.4 percent), fourth offenders’ 178 (3.5 percent), fifth offenders; 54 ( 1 percent), sixth ; 25 (.5 percent), seventh; and 7 (.1 percent), eighth offenders.

Approximately 2,500 of Angola;s prisoners are housed in the Main Prison Complex with about 2,600 more quartered in five large outcamps (Camps C, D, F, J and the Reception Center), each a prison in itself. Every physically able prisoner is required to work. The majority labor eight hours per day, five days per week, in the prison’s vast farming operations. The primary crops are corn, soybeans, cotton wheat. Many vegetable crops such as tomatoes, cabbage, okra, watermelons, beans, peppers and onions are also produced. Approximately four million pounds of vegetables are processed annually by the prison. Angola inmates tend a beef herd of 1,500 cattle. Other inmates work in prison industries such as a license tag plant, silk screen shop, metal fabrication shop, and a mattress, broom and mop factory. Others are enrolled in academic and vocational programs such as welding, carpentry, graphic arts, culinary arts, auto mechanics, and body and fender repair.

Here’s the official prison museum website link…

Here’s a Wikipedia informational link…

Here’s the official state government website link…

Here’s a 7:49 minute YouTube Video about Angola…

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:

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