Tuesday, January 13, 2009
PRISON TERRITORIAL STYLE
Being a jail oriented person,( shucks, I even met my husband in jail,) not too many people can say that. But, the Santa Rita Jail that I know and the Yuma Territorial Prison were very different places. These Iron bunks were made to alleviate bed bug problems. The prison was located in the wilds of Yuma because it was said the heat there could melt the wings off mosquitos. The Indians covered themselves in mud and crawled into their mud huts during the heat of the day and white guys stayed in the river and drank whiskey until it was sane to move about. Surely, this would be a great place to put a prison. No one could escape because the rivers were wild, the desert surround was savage, and mosquitos vicious. Unfortunately, it didn't prove to be true. Convicts escaped on a regular basis because the tin roof of the prison cooked them alive. Many died from heat alone. It was open for a short 33 years. All that said, I thought the most interesting thing about Yuma was the types of crimes people were punished for. For instance: Morman Polygamists and Bigamists were severely punished despite the promise of freedom of religion. One man was jailed for talking disrespectfully in public to a Yuma Statesman. Fighting and drunkeness and the usual crimes of murder, prostitution, theft and cattle rustling were all represented here as were 68 different ethnic groups/countries. I wish our archives had the funding that this interesting place has. More later.