The Travel Channel in my area has been marathon-showing episodes of The Dead Files, my all-time favorite paranormal reality show. This has allowed me to catch up on Steve-and-Amy adventures that I haven’t seen before, and last week, the network ran an episode about Alcatraz.
While I know prisons are a reality of life, I struggle to read or watch anything having to do with them. I don’t watch movies that are set in prisons—if I do, it’s usually only once. I avoid documentaries and news stories about them like the plague. Even when one of my favorite TV shows does a story about a prison (a character going undercover at one, for instance) I have a hard time sitting through it. I think I must have died in a prison in a past life. Or maybe several past lives. I know I want nothing to do with them now.
Of course, being places of sadness, anger, despair, and abject misery, most deserted prisons are infamous for being haunted. Some of them are included on ghost tours. Some of them are ghost tours all on their own. The haunted Old City Jail in Charleston, SC comes to mind, for those who might like to spend several hours in a dark and disturbed prison. And then there’s Alcatraz. Alcatraz is like the mother of all haunted prisons. If you want to find a most-definitely haunted incarceration site, this is it.
Someone contacted The Dead Files about having a paranormal experience there that haunts him to this day, and it was off to the races for entire gang. Steve DiSchiavi even commented how he couldn’t wait to see the place, being a retired homicide cop. (Another reason I could never be on the police force: close proximity to jails and prisons.)
This was also the most famous—and I’ll bet largest—place the DF crew has ever visited. Anyone who watches the show knows that they usually work with couples or families whose homes are malevolently disturbed. Sometimes they may take on the occasional small business, like a bar/restaurant or even an inn or hotel. But for the most part, they confine themselves to privately-owned locations. Amy usually knows nothing in advance about any place she is being brought to “walk through." But in this case, as Matt Anderson (Amy’s intrepid videographer) pointed out, she obviously knew they were going to Alcatraz. He still did his own customary walk-through ahead of her entrance, to cover or conceal historical displays and photographs that are scattered throughout the location. (Wonder what his job’s like??)
Except for that unusual foreknowledge on Amy’s part, she and Steve approached this case like every investigation they do. She walked through the most disturbed areas with Matt and their equally unshakable camera crew to report what she felt and saw. And she described dead prisoners, experiences living people had felt within those walls, cruel and vile acts committed by both felons and prison guards, and at least one gruesome death. Steve did thorough research, even interviewing on-camera an ex-guard, an ex-prisoner, and an ex-corrections officer whose job was to help transport convicts from the mainland to Alcatraz Island. None of it was pretty.
Obviously, Alcatraz is too big a site filled with too much negativity to be cleansed out by an entire army of mediums, Reiki masters, chaos magicians, priests, ministers, Wiccans, Voodoo practitioners, and Shamans. Well, maybe an entire army might do it. But that wasn’t the point of this show. The man who had called for the investigation wanted to know that he was safe, that whatever he encountered in Alcatraz was not following him around. Amy reassured him that the entity who grabbed and threatened him (and continues to poke and touch other visitors to this day) was stuck within the prison and was unable to leave it. Their client was more than relieved.
Alcatraz is huge and dark. In its past, it was used to imprison “the worst of the worst”: convicts who murdered, assaulted, and otherwise preyed upon fellow inmates at other institutions and were therefore moved to this maximum-security prison. Amy described the place as “full of anguish.” I think it’s full of a lot of other things besides, and none of it is good.
I will not be going to Alcatraz.