Jim Quillen

Inside Alcatraz
  • Inside Alcatraz

  • Each day we saw the outside world in all its splendour, and each day that view served as a reminder that we had wasted and ruined our lives.

    Jim Quillen, AZ586 - a runaway, problem child and petty thief - was jailed several times before his twentieth birthday. In August 1942, after escaping from San Quentin, he was arrested on the run and sentenced to forty-five years in prison, and later transferred to Alcatraz.

    This is the true story of life inside America's most notorious prison - from terrifying times in solitary confinement to daily encounters with 'the Birdman', and what really happened during the desperate and deadly 1946 escape attempt.

Jim Quillen, born in 1919, had a difficult childhood; by the time he was an adolescent, he was regularly getting into serious trouble. At twenty-two—chained at the wrists and sentenced to forty-five years behind bars—he saw the inside of United States Penitentiary Alcatraz Island for the first time. Many years later Quillen returned to the island, which by that time was part of the National Park Service system. For several years, he was one of the island’s most popular volunteers—retelling his story as part of the audio tour, and sharing his past with visitors fascinated by his life experiences. Jim Quillen died in 1998 and is survived by his wife, daughter, and granddaughters.