In 1942, the War Department acquired fee title to 19.27 acres of land by means of a Declaration of Taking. During the same period of time, the Army obtained leases for a total of 111.81 acres of land and obtained fee titles for easements, totaling 0.33 of an acre. The total site acquisition listed on real estate maps was 131.41 acres of land. On 24 August 1942, with the last of the Japanese internees transferred to the more permanent "Relocation Centers", the post was transferred to the 9th Service Command.
The Turlock Rehabilitation Center was located 15 miles southeast of Modesto and 20 miles northwest of Merced, in Stanislaus County, California. The site was acquired by the War Department for use as a Japanese American receiving center and internment center. Improvements to the site included barracks, latrine and laundry facilities, septic systems, and military buildings.
In 1946, accountability of 19.60 acres of land was assumed by the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation. This accountability, comprised 19.27 acres in fee and 0.33 acres of easements. The remaining 111.81 acres of leased land was terminated for a total disposal of 131.41 acres.
Source: Corps of Engineers
The Turlock Assembly Center was at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in the town of Turlock. Occupied from April 30 to August 12, it held a total of 3,699 evacuees from the Sacramento River delta and Los Angeles areas. The maximum population at one time was 3,662. After September 14, 1942, the assembly center was used as a U.S. Army Rehabilitation Center where Army prisoners received special training and discipline prior to being restored to military duty.
A study of the rehabilitation center lists 150 barracks, 31 latrines, 18 bathhouses, a canteen, an administration building, three hospital buildings, a grandstand, single-pole guard towers, several open sheds, other structures, and a 40-acre victory garden. The 1942 aerial photograph suggests most of these facilities were also present for the assembly center. Oddly enough, the maximum number of Army prisoners held at the facility was 1,500. More than twice as many Japanese Americans were confined in the same area, a testament to the crowded and inadequate conditions of the assembly centers..
Source: Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites
What would a small rural town, in central California, be doing with 10,000 U.S. Army prisoners?(2) Having just entered World War II, the United States needed military men as quickly as they could be trained.(3) Because of isolationist foreign policy, there was only a U.S. force of about 500,000 in 1941, and 7 million men would be needed to fight the war it was being projected.(4)
After the outbreak of war, induction of men began in full force. Some of these men had difficulty in adapting to the discipline and rigors of military life. Because of this, these men broke military regulations such as being absent without leave (AWOL), deserting (longer timespan than AWOL), were insubordinate, and there were some who committed more serious crimes. They all received various types of court martials, and in most instances, a dishonorable discharge was recommended for them.(5)
This is from an official Army document:
The primary mission of the United States Army is to organize, train, equip land forces of the United States for the conduct of prompt and sustained combat operations on land in accordance with plans for national security. To accomplish this mission, high standards of conduct must be set and maintained . . . the soldier is subject to two sets of law; those governing him as a citizen, which may be enforced by the Army or civil authorities, as the case may warrant, and those governing him as a soldier, which are enforced by the Army . . . the soldier in the Army is in a position which has no counterpart in any civilian occupation he might pursue. In foreseeable situations, his violation of military regulations may cause the loss of lives or millions of dollars worth of equipment and materiel. For this reason, no one in the military service can be permitted to shirk his duty.(6)
During the first part of 1942, the Army camp stockades were becoming overfilled with Army prisoners. In June 1942, there were 2,206 "general prisoners" located at Army posts, and Army penitentiaries or "disciplinary barracks."(7) These generally were prisoners who could be restored to military duty after they received special training in military discipline and combat.8 A center was needed to "rehabilitate" these men and return them to duty.(8)
In the summer and fall of 1942, the Army established nine "detention and rehabilitation centers" in the United States, one for each Army Service Command.(9) The Ninth Service Command (West Coast), headquartered at Fort Douglas, Utah, selected Turlock for its rehabilitation center's location. It was established on September 14, 1942 and was the very first Army rehabilitation center, and throughout the war, it was the largest.(10) The Army specified, "A rehabilitation center is defined as an Army correctional installation used in periods of national emergency as a vehicle for rehabilitating and restoring general prisoners to duty."(11)
The Army did not want to build new rehabilitation facilities. It was looking for compounds that already existed. It would permit funding of minor construction, installation of fencing, and lighting for security purposes at those compounds.(12) Located just on the outskirts of Turlock was the Stanislaus County fairgrounds which had just recently been utilized as an assembly center for people of Japanese ancestry prior to their transport to relocation centers. The fairgrounds was vacant and fit Army plans.(13)
Located at the fairgrounds were 150 barracks buildings, 31 latrine facilities, 18 bathhouses, 1 canteen building, an administration building of 3 wings, 3 hospital buildings, several open sheds, a grandstand, and other lesser structures. There was electricity, and the city of Turlock provided the water. Only one building was connected to city sewage. The other buildings had cesspools.(14) The fairgrounds had no streets or shrubbery, and there were very few trees.(15)
On September 16, 1942, Company A of the 752nd Military Police arrived from Walla Walla, Washington, followed by administrators, and Company B a few days later. Plans were developed, and tools and materials were delivered. Everyone worked feverishly to have the center ready for the arrival of prisoners. It took two weeks of intensive labor to build stockade fences and equip the facility. "Riley's Lake" (named after the post surgeon) contained stagnant water and had to be filled in. Two parallel barbed wire fences were erected around five separate "enclosures." They were ten feet high having guard towers at each corner.(16)
An obstacle course was constructed for physical training. Forty acres of land was leased just adjacent to the center for a "victory garden" which would give the prisoners exercise, provide a positive work activity, and supply the facility with vegetables.(17) On September 28, 1942, the first prisoner was received, and by the end of the center's first year, 2,854 prisoners arrived with sentences averaging six months.(18) There were now 400 military and civilian employees in place.(19)
The official Army name for the Turlock facility was "Disciplinary Center," or in some sources, "Disciplinary and Rehabilitation Center."(20) The first commanding officer of the Turlock facility, Colonel Kindervater, who was a German immigrant, changed the name to "Rehabilitation Center" because (1) the purpose was to "instill a better sense of responsibility and patriotism among our prisoners with a view toward restoring them to duty instead of merely keeping them in confinement," and (2) "the word disciplinary is too damn hard to pronounce," said the commander primarily because of his German accent. All of the other centers soon changed their name to "Rehabilitation Center."(21) But informally among the prisoners and center personnel, the camp became known as simply "Turlock."(22)
The rehabilitation center also housed prisoners who were on route to the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth.(23) The disciplinary barracks was full and many of its prisoners stayed at Turlock until there was space available. The disciplinary barracks is a penitentiary for more hardened criminals who had backgrounds of civil and military offenses, such as assault, crimes involving drugs, murder, rape, arson, and sexual perversion. It was the job of the rehabilitation center's professional staff to determine the "restorability" of any soldier at Turlock. It could recommend disciplinary barracks or rehabilitation depending upon their findings. Some Leavenworth-bound prisoners were "rehabilitated" at the center, and instead of going to confinement at a maximum security prison, they were restored and sent to overseas units.(24)
The statistics below clearly show the jump in Army prisoners over a two year period. The March 1944 statistics reveal how prominent the rehabilitation centers had become as a correctional institution.(25)
June 1942 Type of Facility No. Prisoners Army Posts in U.S. 898 U.S. Disciplinary Barracks 760 U.S. Penitentiaries 376 Overseas Stations 162 Miscellaneous 6 Total 2,206 March 1944 Type of Facility No. Prisoners Army Posts in U.S. 996 U.S. Disciplinary Barracks 4,009 Rehabilitation Centers 7,381 U.S. Penitentiaries 1,169 Overseas Stations 2,127 Miscellaneous 3 Total 15,685
Why so many Army prisoners? Irving Janis in his 1945 article "Psychodynamic Aspects of Adjustment to Army Life" offers some insight:(26)
A man entering the Army undergoes as profound a change in his way of life as he is likely to experience in his entire adult lifetime . . . It is a period of rapid alteration of daily living habits and of forcible abandonment of many personal goals . . . the inductee is faced with an entirely new set of demands from the social environment . . . a new sub-culture -- one in which the status system, the types of behaviors which are approved and disapproved, the modes of punishment and rewards, the ceremonials and rituals differ considerably from civilian life . . . it is a social environment which places a premium upon rapid and efficient acculturation. The inductee quickly learns that he must acquire new habits and new attitudes and that he must adhere to them rigorously if he is to escape punishment. One of the first things he is taught is the contents of the punitive sections of the Articles of War.
The new soldier must face depression caused from leaving family, friends, and familiar landscapes. He must also confront a myriad of strangers who come from different backgrounds and conditions.(27) Most can make this adjustment, but there are others who find it difficult. This latter group will be frustrated and will find a way to release tension which sometimes manifests itself by going against Army regulations.
The following is data gathered by the Turlock center's sociologist Lt. Carling Malouf:(28)
Offenses Causing Confinement at Turlock, Rehabilitation Center Offense Whites Blacks Mexicans Indians Desertion (Includes AWOL) 52% 11% 46% 85% Theft 1 17 9 0 Forgery, embezzlement 5 0 0 0 Disrespect, disobeyed superiors 12 26 18 17 Assault 5 26 27 0 Late for duty, left post early 1 3 0 0 Escape 11 15 9 0 Broke arrest or restriction 10 6 0 0 Sleeping on post 7 0 0 0 Impersonating an officer 1 3 0 0 Perjury 1 0 0 0 Drunk and disorderly 3 0 0 0 Forged pass 5 0 0 0 Wore civilian clothes 5 0 0 0 Bigamy 5 0 0 0 Unlawful entry into building 1 0 0 0 Manslaughter 1 0 0 0
The environmental background of these prisoners
can help one to understand the possible causes of some of these
offenses. Over 50% of these offenders came from families where
one or two parents were dead or incapacitated. Again Malouf's
Parental Disruption in Prisoners' Backgrounds White Blacks Mexicans Parents separated or divorced 12% 14% 0% Father died or deserted 20 16 30 Mother died or deserted 5 24 10 Both parents died or deserted 9 3 0 Other reasons 13 11 20 Family apparently stable 40 32 40
This data is substantiated by two other studies done at the same time. Perry V. Wagley delivered a paper at the American Psychiatric Association conference in 1943 and indicated that 59% the prisoners at Fort Custer Rehabilitation Center came from broken homes; 40% came from families where a parent had died; 19% had divorced parents.30 A.J.N. Schnieder and C.W. La Grove noted in an American Journal of Psychiatry(31) article that 53.2% of the rehabilitation prisoners came from broken homes.
It was also found that the vast majority of the prisoners lacked education and intellectual ability. In a study done by Schnieder of 500 prisoners at an Army rehabilitation center, it was found that the average intelligence rating was 90.3 which was 10 points below the rest of the Army. That 60% had scored below average on the Army test.(32) At Turlock the average level of education attained by the prisoners was 7.7.(33) Some prisoners scored so low on the Army General Classification Test that they should not have been allowed entrance into the military.(34)
Marital status of Turlock prisoners was studied by Malouf. In a sample of 212 prisoners it was found that 29% of the inmates had been married or were currently married. Seventeen prisoners lived in harmony with their spouse. Twenty-one prisoners were divorced with seven marrying again.(35) The average age of Turlock prisoners was 24 from a range of 17 to 43 years of age.(36) Many of the men married before they were of age. Early marriages many times would end up as failures depending upon the maturity of both partners. This condition caused some of these men to go AWOL to protect a failing marriage.(37)
It was found by Wagley that 53% of a sampling of 180 rehabilitation prisoners came from families that had "marginal financial status."(38) Schneider found in his research that 38% came from poor families and 42.6% came from families with "marginal existence."(39) Malouf points out the disparity in sentencing from one economic class to another:
The economic factors can have some bearing on the type and severity of the punishment given to offenders. Men from prominent, very wealthy, and well known families often had their cases assigned to lower courts where shorter or lesser sentences and fines were given, and sometimes, too, they were given attention while in confinement.(40)
He gives the example of a Turlock prisoner coming from a poor family, who was never in trouble, but in the Army he put on a second lieutenant's bars on his enlisted man's uniform and received several years of confinement. On the other hand, another Turlock prisoner, who came from a wealthy and prominent family wore an officer's uniform, was drunk and disorderly, and yet all he received was minor discipline. At Turlock, he was given lawn care duty which was considered to be a prize by prisoners.(41)
Environmental background (rural vs. urban),
and the regions of the country from which the Turlock prisoners
came, provide some interesting insight concerning the nature of
those incarcerated. Malouf found that 9% of the first 2,500 prisoners
came from a rural environment.(42) This changed with time resulting
in an average of 30%:(43)
Urban and Rural Offenders Offenses Urban Rural Military 70% 30% Criminal (Civilian) 80% 20%
Malouf found that rural prisoners were more apt to go AWOL, show disrespect towards officers, and sleep while on duty. Urban prisoners had a greater inclination toward theft, embezzlement, and other felonies like stealing military vehicles.(44)
Since Malouf's background was sociology,
he studied many different characteristics of his prisoners. He
took statistics related to the regions from which prisoners came:(45)
Regional Origins of Prisoners at Turlock
Region Percentage New England and North Atlantic States 17.5% Southern States 36.0% Plains and Great Lakes States 23.5% Intermountain and Southwestern States 8.5% Pacific Coastal States 14.5%
Malouf made these observations: prisoners from the South had less tendency to be deserters or to be AWOL, but they had the highest records of assault and violence. Prisoners who stole were primarily from small rural communities. Forgers and embezzlers came from the large urban areas of the New England states, north Atlantic states, and intermountain region.(46) Those prisoners who were insubordinate or struck officers were primarily from the plains and the South.(47)
Malouf also noted in his research that 68% of the Turlock prisoners had been general laborers in civilian life. They also had trouble finding work and keeping it. Twenty percent had been farmers and 12% had been employed as clerks or were white collar workers.(48)
Alcoholism among the prisoners was quite high. Wagley's research at a rehabilitation center documents that 68% of 180 prisoners sampled felt they had a tendency towards alcohol. Of this number, 23% were chronic alcoholics; 58% were moderate to heavy drinkers; and 19% were occasional social drinkers. In domestic problems, 20% blamed drunkenness as the cause.(49) Schnieder found that 27.2% of the prisoners he sampled were alcoholics and .6% had used marijuana.(50) Malouf indicated that 2.1 to 5.6% were chronic alcoholics at Turlock,(51) and 17.8% of the prisoners had used drugs to get high in order to relieve stress.(52)
Alcoholism was not considered to be a problem by the Army, but indeed alcohol was connected with many offenses. Still the attitude towards it was casual. In the military to be able to drink and carry on normal activities was considered a strength. However, alcohol was curbed in combat duty.(53) It was felt by the Army that the military didn't cause alcoholism, but it was admitted that alcohol did cause the partaker to do things that he would not normally do.(54)
It was difficult not to induct men who had criminal records because it was a time when manpower was needed. Schnieder in his study found that 65% had been arrested in civilian life for criminal offenses.(55) The duty of the center's psychiatrist and sociologist was to identify hardcore criminals who may never be rehabilitated. Gilbert Betts in an address at a conference of the American Educational Research Association suggested that proper identification of those who could not adjust to military life could save the government $2,000 per man if he was denied entrance into the military.(56) Betts said: (57)
Maladjusted antisocial behavior in an adult is learned behavior, constitutionally permitted but not so caused. Such behavior was learned and became habitual through the mechanism of trial-and-error responses to recurrent, emotionally charged, stimulus situations. In the 18-20 years leading into adulthood, behavior patterns become firmly established and cannot be shed at will; they must be unlearned. Unlearning and relearning may require the presence of remedial situations as potent and as long standing as were the originals.
One-third of the men drafted into the Army were denied entrance because of mental and physical impairments. The standards at the time had been lowered because of the desperate need for military manpower. Courts gave criminals the option of jailtime or joining the military. Judges felt that the Army could give these miscreants discipline, and their families felt they could be transformed from criminal life by the Army.(58)
Of a sample of 2,350 prisoners at Turlock, 64% had enlisted; 30% were drafted; and 6% had been in the National Guard.(59) Men were enlisting in the Army because of good feelings they had about the military primarily because World War I veterans had been treated like heroes. Also, during the Great Depression, jobs were hard to find, and joining the Army would provide the enlistees with a certain amount of financial security for themselves and their families. They too felt that the Army could benefit them by developing them as a person and fulfill the myth that the military would "make a man" of them.(60)
As noted above, the one offense that overshadowed all others was being AWOL or deserting. This is the definition of AWOL found in a Department of War document:(61)
[AWOL is] the status of a person subject to military law who has failed to repair at the fixed time to the proper appointed place of duty, or has gone from the same without proper leave, or has absented himself from his command, guard, quarters, stations, or camp without proper leave.
Desertion is being AWOL but on a more permanent basis. There is a fine line of distinction between the two, but the punishment for either can be as little as company punishment, a short sentence and/or a possible a dishonorable discharge. In combat, it could mean the firing squad.(62) A court of law had the onus of proving whether or not the offender had "permanent intent." Sometimes the genuine fear of punishment would keep someone who was AWOL absent longer.(63)
There were so many reasons for someone to go AWOL. For example, there may domestic problems, or the soldier could simply be having a good time and elect not to return for awhile. In combat, stress can be overwhelming and the thought of dying too overbearing; consequently, the soldier may decide to flee from his severe circumstance.
The War Department issued these statistics concerning the problem of AWOL. Forty-three percent of AWOL offenders were married. It found that 56% had physical problems such as aches, pains, fainting, upset stomachs, headaches, cold sweats, and shortness of breath all which certainly points to some kind of anxiety. Forty percent enjoyed being by themselves and not liking crowds or the congestion of military life.(64)
Those going AWOL had lesser education. Forty-eight percent had not finished grade school and only 32% had some high school. On the Army General Classification Test, 61% of AWOL offenders had low scores.(65) Education was the key because it enabled the soldier to better understand his condition and to have better and quicker understanding of orders given by educated officers.(66)
A War Department document states, "Perhaps the most striking fact about most AWOL's is their lack of personal identification with the war and their unwillingness to recognize themselves as soldiers!"(67) Again, the Army felt education was necessary for the soldier to understand his role and "why he must be willing to make any sacrifice required of him, and why he must not break any rules required to carry out his Army assignment."(68) Repeated AWOL offenses were at an alarming 64%.(69)
Of the first 1,755 prisoners, 1,500 were whites; 200 were blacks; 50 hispanics; and 5 native americans.(70) Blacks were the only ones segregated. They had their own barracks, mess halls, cooks, day rooms, and barbers. When working or marching in military drills, they too were separated from the rest of the prisoners. However, there was no segregation in Enclosure Q which was the first location for new prisoners because it was a quarantine area. Medical care was not segregated, and the races mixed freely in recreational and sport activities. In fact at boxing matches, mixed support was seen with everyone rooting for the ones from their enclosure. Musical performances were enjoyed together. Since no musical instruments were allowed, it was entirely vocal where blacks, hispanics, and whites performed for everyone's entertainment.(71)
Blacks showed a high percentage of former criminal behavior. Malouf estimates that 80% of the blacks had previous offenses which included drunkenness, vagrancy, fighting, train riding, and shooting dice.(72) Malouf stated,(73)
It was possible to distinguish from tendencies which were different between Whites, Afro-Americans, and Hispanics in the question of reasons of confinement. The evidence, of course, shows that the reasons were, to a considerable extent, a matter of ethnicity or cultural background, and NOT racial except to the extent that one group stereotypes another.
The term "hispanic" implies all ethnic peoples of Spanish background. However, almost all were people of Mexican descent living primarily in the Southwest and coming from Mexico. There was an international agreement between the United States and Mexico that allowed Mexican nationals living in the United States to could be drafted into the United States military.(74)
Hispanics had a high rate of AWOL and desertion. Many blamed it on their lack of understanding English. Many times they would misunderstand orders given to them and in the confusion break some regulation. It was concluded at times by others that this was a ploy on the hispanic part to avoid military duty. This was in fact the case at induction centers. In an interview the hispanic might avoid being drafted by pretending that he didn't understand English. Hispanics considered this being clever, and the man who avoided induction was treated with a certain amount respect. In fact generally, the hispanic inductee showed little responsibility towards Mexico or the United States. His prime concern was his family which he considered to come before national committment.(75)
It was found that blacks went AWOL far less than whites. If they did go, it was primarily for personal pleasure rather than going home. Many blacks in the Army were truck drivers who seldom stole a vehicle with the idea to desert. Even escape attempts were few among blacks.(76) Malouf notes that there was some disparity at southern induction centers whereby whites were excused from the draft while blacks were drafted. All was not fair in the military with racial dissension rearing its ugly head.(77)
The first commanding officer at Turlock, Col. Kindervater, had been in charge of an all black unit at a prior station. At Turlock, he treated blacks as equals among prisoners and perhaps went a little further. It was noticed that he gave blacks the better prison jobs such as lawn care and gardening. This did not sit well with whites. Complaints were registered in particular by two southern lieutenants and tensions grew.(78)
In Enclosure B, the black cooks had a reputation of providing good food and at a clean facility, and because of this, whites would eat there. Problems arose when the black cooks had to give orders to white mess hall staff, and when black mess hall staff had to tell whites where they should sit and the amount of food they would receive.(79)
Finally, one evening a fight broke out between a white and a black at the mess hall. The battle quickly spread as the word "fight" was loudly yelled proclaimed. Soon there were at least 200 whites battling 80 blacks. The blacks retrieved knives from the kitchen, and whites used wood pieces from their cots. After four or five minutes of battle, the riot squad arrived with tommy guns, shotguns, and tear gas grenades.(80)
Once the riot squad made their presence known, the prisoners dropped their weapons and fled to their barracks hoping to avoid punishment. It seemed that most everyone had been involved in the melee. No one was killed or seriously injured, and the riot squad helped both sides to save face by arriving when it did.(81)
Punishment was immediate. All prisoners in Enclosure B were made to sleep outside that night; blacks were separated from whites. It was difficult to determine exactly who the culprits were; therefore, everyone, including the injured, marched all the next day stopping only to eat. They were so tired that evening that no one wanted to continue the bitter conflict. From that point on, daily they had to work one hour longer in the morning and one hour longer in the afternoon which was obviously planned to exhaust them physically curing their eagerness to brawl.(82)
Confinement can be stressful to many. It
is unpleasant and restrictive. Every prisoner has the secret thought
of escaping if he is worth his salt.(83) One prisoner remarked,
"Hell, you'd think I was worse than a Jap prisoner the way
they talked to me. You can't blame me for escaping after that."(84)
Some men needed to go home because of domestic problems. If he
was lucky enough to escape and reach home without being caught,
he quite often would be turned in by a relative. It was a crime
to harbor a fugitive and many times the escapee's own future welfare
was a concern.(85)
Most escape attempts were tried around 10 pm. They also came during good weather and on Sunday night because the prisoners had the day off and were rested.(86) The escapes were generally unplanned and done by single individuals. This is the story of one such attempt:(87)
It was midnight. Case 266 was standing in the shadows of the barracks for a few moments, contemplating his dash for freedom. With all the energy he could muster he dashed toward the fences, climbed the first fence, and was proceeding to climb the second and outer fence when his flight was discovered by the guards in the towers. Bullets from tommy guns began to pepper the ground around him, and tracers ricocheted past him and bounced high into the air. The spot light from the guard tower seemed to grasp him like a long arm, and he managed to drop to the ground from the last fence. All he had to do now was run, and run fast; but the searchlight - he ran back and forth, but still he could not elude its grasp. For a few moments he almost decided to abandon the attempt and drop to the ground, but a last strong impulse caused him to dash toward a distant patch of weeds, his trail marked with frantic footsteps, and craters made by bullets seeking their prey. He passed safetly into the darkness, and freedom - at least for awhile.
There were three tries to tunnel out of the Turlock center. The soil is sandy and easy to dig, but all tries failed. The first attempt was discovered when guards noticed fresh soil oozing from out under a box used for firewood. The second attempt failed when a guard noticed a loose board in a barracks where the tunnel was hidden. The third attempt ended in a cave-in.(88)
Some escape attempts were tried while the prisoners marched in the countryside free from the confines of the double fences. They would slip from rank if the opportunity allowed, but most were quickly apprehended. One escapee was able to get as far as St. Louis but was soon arrested. On his return to Turlock, he grabbed a guard's gun at the train station in Sacramento. A shootout ensued between some other guards and the prisoner. He was caught after firing five rounds.(89)
One guard at Turlock seemed to be dysfunctional. While on duty he found a prisoner attempting to climb over one of the fences. The prisoner told him he was going a short distance to a beer garden and would return. The guard accepted this story, and when his relief arrived, he was told of a possible returning prisoner. The incident was reported, and the guard was given new responsibilities.(90)
One prisoner had his fellow inmates bury him a shallow hole in the victory garden where he worked during that day. He lay in a fetal position and used a straw for breathing. At the end of the workday, he was expected to wiggle free and escape. When the work detail was finished for the day, a count was taken and one prisoner was found missing. Guards saw a strange mound in the field. They quickly dug it up and found the prisoner unconscious and almost dead. He was taken immediately to the hospital and revived within an hour.(91)
There was one mass escape attempt. Circulating among prisoners and guards was a rumor that a mass escape attempt would be tried. When Malouf had the night watch, he placed 2 extra guards with tommy guns in the alfalfa field near the prison. This would allow for a crossfire with the guards in the towers. Nothing happened on his watch, but he told his relief what he had done and the extra guards remained in position. About 9:30 pm, a group of six prisoners emerged from the shadows while 50 to 60 prisoners threw rocks at the tower guards to distract their attention. The six prisoners began to climb the first fence, and spotting them, the guards opened fire on them. Four fled to the barracks leaving two to climb the second fence. One was shot in the buttocks and the other froze in fright.(92)
Inmates wrote of this mass attempt in their personal letters which were subject to censorship. One prisoner had written, "One of these crazy guards shot and killed one of them. I don't see why we should fight for the country when the boys are shooting each other up over here." Another wrote, "I don't know why I should fight for an Army that shoots its own men"(93)
In any correctional institution, subgroups or cliques exist to give inmates a sense of respectability and to satisfy egos. One such subgroup was "The Night Riders." They took it upon themselves to control fellow inmates by enforcing a code of conduct. Their main tactic was reprisal which was punishing those who stepped outside their code. At night they would visit an unsuspecting inmate and beat him with wooden clubs which were braces from their cots. They were also known to slash faces as a reminder of who was in control. No one interfered because they might be The Night Riders' next victim.(94)
This vigilante group would attack anyone who made the barracks suffer for an infraction. If an inmate would help guards during an escape, that brought on certain reprisal. Stealing from fellow inmates, or causing punishment of someone by the guards, meant a visit.(95) Blacks or hispanics were left out of this circle and was never assaulted by them.(96)
A "pecking order" existed among the prisoners. There were two types of leaders: those selected by the center's administration and those who asserted themselves in leadership roles. There were the typical verbal and physical encounters to determine who would ultimately lead. The leaders who emerged were usually tyrannical and intimidating and their rule selfish and ruthless.(97)
At one time a hunger strike was planned among the prisoners in general resistance to the center's stringent rules, but it never came to past because most everyone wanted to serve their time and be released as quickly as possible. But the monotony of prison life did cause misbehavior and violation of the rules. Playing cards and shooting dice, which were forbidden, provided a release. Making knives out of most anything became a pastime for some violently obsessive individuals. Some made wooden guns and blackened them with stove cleaner which made them look very realistic especially at night.(98)
Prisoners fermented potato peelings, dried apricots, or raisins to make alcohol. Roots of certain plants were dried and smoked for an intoxicating feeling. One group broke into the mess hall wanting extra food, and fire was set at least once to a building which were all outgrowths of confinement.(99)
Domineering prisoners were known to sadistically torment weaker prisoners. One such case was "The Green Hornet" a name which came from a popular radio program of the time. An inmate with the name Green was continuously referred to as "The Green Hornet" accompanied by a chorus of buzzing sounds. He eventually broke because of the constant haranguing and attacked someone with a knife. For this he was given a dishonorable discharge. He had become so mentally impaired that he had to be escorted home because he had no orientation. Another prisoner was poked constantly causing terrible anguish. This led to problems in breathing and eventually mental duress.(100)
Catholic and Protestant services were generally attended by 125 to 150 prisoners each Sunday. Sunday evenings were a time for religious singing with generally 250 prisoners partaking. But this became more of a social event where inmates from the different enclosures could talk among themselves, and in some instances, plan escapes.(101)
The center's chaplain was in charge of the prison's small library of about 400 books. One book was allowed to be checked out for a week. The prisoners had one hour a week in which to spend browsing the shelves. Reading and writing instruction was offered by two guards on a volunteer basis. Some prisoners saw the importance of this program and took an advantage of it.(102)
To guard the 1,200 to 1,500 prisoners, which were on hand at any one time, took 400 enlisted personnel and 28-30 officers.(103) There were about 200 guards who took turns working 24 hour shifts. Shotguns were carried while patrolling the facility, and tommy guns were used in the towers. Guards weren't to speak to the prisoners except to give orders.(104) But this was not always obeyed.
A few guards smuggled contraband into the
center and sold them to the prisoners. Some of it was material
to make drugs. One guard had been a friend with one of the prisoners
in another Army unit. This friendship continued at Turlock to
the extent where the guard mailed the prisoner's mail without
going through censorship. They were caught when someone forgot
to put a stamp on the envelope.(105)
The guards and prisoners generally got along well. Some guards said they would not shoot an escaping prisoner if they knew him well, but they would shoot in his general direction. One guard offered this explanation, "If they were Japs or Germans I would shoot them, but these are our boys."(106)
Many guards and officers feared the prisoners though. They had to compete for authority with their leaders causing tension. It was the feeling by the center's personnel that many of the prisoners were incarcerated because they committed crimes to avoid combat. Because of this and other reasons, it pleased them to see that some restored prisoners weren't given the opportunity to visit their home before reporting to an overseas combat unit.(107)
As noted earlier, the first guards at the
center were the 752nd Military Police from Walla Walla. These
enlisted men and officers were not schooled in rehabilitation
techniques. There were just a few who had training or experience
in penology. Some personnel were sent though to Fort Leavenworth
to learn about administration, security, and Army policy and procedures
concerning rehabilitation. They also were taught how to maintain
personnel records so crucial in the understanding of each prisoner.(108)
It was found also that later replacement guards still lacked proper correctional methods in handling prisoners. Many were reclassified soldiers themselves who still weren't train adequately. Concerning their ability to drill correctly, Weiss comments:(109)
Unfortunately, many of the prisoners here come from foreign theaters and are very well trained and drilled before they get here, so that they put to shame many of the members of the Guard Company who have to watch them. It is a sorry state of affairs. It cannot be helped.
Officers had a morale problem according
to Weiss. Being at Turlock was like a sentence to them as well.
It was common for an officer who received orders to another station
to say, "The unexecuted portion of my sentence is being remitted
and I am now restored to duty."(110) The irony of the uttering
is obvious, but it must have been bad duty for a city boy to live
in an isolated rural community.
According to an Army directive of December 9, 1942, rehabilitation centers were to have six divisions which were administrative, operation and training, personnel, repairs and utilities, surgeon, and post headquarters.(112)
The responsibility of the administrative division was to maintain prisoner's records; secure prisoner's personal property and money; handle correspondence; receive and register prisoners; do investigations on prisoners; do fingerprinting; censor prisoner's mail; and implement boards and courts such as the Psychiatry and Sociology Board, Section 8 Board, and general, special, and summary courts martial.(113)
The operation and training division was responsible for prison guards; all training and training schedules; work schedules for prisoners and guards; and for operations, security, intelligence, inspections, and discipline.(114)
The personnel division handled the records of the center's personnel and civilian employees; the publication and distribution of orders; and all matters related to personnel such as awards, promotions, assignments, mail service, mess halls, and post exchange.(115)
The shops, equipment, fire department, engineering, and all maintenance was under the repairs and utilities division. The surgeon was responsible for all health care which included medicine, the hospital, and all clinics. The post headquarters handled public relations, the center's supervision, and any special services required for the proper functioning of the facility.(116)
The most important position was of course the center's commanding officer in which Turlock had two through its short history. Malouf gives some detail of the personalities of the two along with some insight concerning other officer personnel.
Commander Colonel Kindervater had been in the U.S. Army for a number of years. His Prussian background made him a strict disciplinarian, and he remained aloof from the officers under his charge. He ate alone, and when he wanted a haircut, he had the barbershop cleared of customers. He loved the "guard mount" or the changing of the guard. Everyday it was a celebrated event. In fact West Point was the only other Army facility that executed it. Kindervater was a German immigrant, but his patriotism to the U.S. was never questioned.(117)
Kindervater continuously initiated new procedures and organizational changes. He wanted uniformity and simplicity. Nothing could be done at the center without his approval right down to trivial matters such as adding an extra shelf in an office. He suppressed his officers' creativity. He didn't allow intuitiveness or initiative which was frustrating to most; consequently, he tried to hand-pick his officers to fit his mold. Personal specialties of his men were important to him. Malouf offers this example of one officer knew how to scoop out ice cream properly and was an excellent bartender. That officer was soon promoted from lieutenant to captain because of his unique skills.(118)
Kindervater's attitude towards the center was not good. He was known to tell new officers that they had done something wrong in the Army to rate such duty. He instructed them to wear a clothespin on their nose when they visited the blacks barracks. He further indicated to them that blacks didn't like to work.(119) This is puzzling because Kindervater had been in charge of a unit of black soldiers. It is strange that he should harbor such thoughts and even make them known in public.
Kindervater was replaced by Colonel F (Malouf protects his real name and doesn't disclose his purpose) who was a more relaxed commander and allowed officers and enlisted men to participate in decision-making. Special treatment to certain individuals under Kindervater was stopped. Colonel F. didn't like the Psychiatry and Sociology Board, but tolerated it because the Army required such a reviewing entity. Under his command any decisions concerning the restoration of prisoners to active duty were made by his civil service stenographers. He did interview each prisoner personally though.(120)
Lt. Carling Malouf was the center's sociologist whose official title was "Personnel Consultant." He had earned a graduate degree in 1940 from the University of Utah's School of Sociology and Anthropology. He not only served as sociologist, but he also performed the usual required duties of any officer at the center, such as officer of the day. His job though was to form a classification file on each prisoner using personnel records, interviewing, counseling sessions, and observation. He served on the review board determining whether or not a prisoner was ready for active duty again.(121)
Isidor Weiss was the center's psychiatrist who had a diploma from the American Board of Psychiatry and had practiced for ten years.(122) He was frustrated with his duties which he considered mere paper shuffling. He also was angry because in his estimation no rehabilitation was taking place at the center.(123)
Both the psychiatrist and the sociologist sat on the center's Psychiatry and Sociology Board or clemency board. The psychiatrist filed a report with the commanding officer concerning each prisoner. Some friction seemed to exist between Malouf and Weiss. In a report filed by Weiss concerning the duties of the board, the sociologist was overlooked while other positions received more space. Malouf made this comment, "The Sociologist was almost forgotten or ignored - one mere paragraph was devoted to him."(124)
Malouf made the following observations concerning specific personnel for which he assigned fictitious names which are lightly veiled commentary. One doesn't know if the characterizations are completely valid even though they were made by a person with a trained professional eye. However, personalities are important to any organization as they affect the organization's purpose which in this case is rehabilitation.
Lt. Col. Halter had been a parole officer in California, but surprisingly he wasn't aggressive or even assertive. He was bogged down in clerical details and wasn't very creative. He also wasn't consistent in keeping with the center's procedures preferring to apply other procedures used elsewhere.(125)
Major Flesher was the senior member of the Psychiatry and Sociology Board. He carried certain biases. He ignored all the evidence concerning a prisoner who was a thug in St. Louis who had two pages of arrests, convictions and jailtime. He simply liked the way he saluted. Flesher commented that General Pershing once said, "Give me a man who can shoot and salute and I'll have a good soldier." Concerning a black prisoner with little education and a dull personality, whose offenses were minor, Flesher recommended a dishonorable discharge and a sentence to Fort Leavenworth.(126)
Lt. Col. Bar had been a businessman and came from Officers Reserve Corp. He didn't really have the education and experience needed but was willing to listen and learn.127 Captain Washtub was older but in good physical condition. He was in charge of Enclosure A where he was like a father to the inmates. He was frank with the prisoners which they appreciated and respected.(128)
Lt. Sellers was the first officer new prisoners saw. He was upbeat, positive, intelligent, and had a winning personality which gave the prisoner some hope concerning the outcome of time spent at the center.(129) On the other hand, Lt. Ledbottom was disliked by the prisoners because he was arrogant and overbearing. He told white prisoners they were cowards and traitors, and he merely sneered at blacks considering them morons. He been a served as a trial judge in Los Angeles.(130)
The center's first chaplain was from the South who was racially biased. He spent most of his time in the surrounding civilian community instead of performing his duty at the center. His wife once spoke at a Modesto church which caused an uproar. In her address she mentioned that the prisoners came from "ill-bred" families. This got play in the local newspapers. Within time a prisoner and an officer at the center saw the article which could have caused a great deal of ill will. Fortunately, the officer stopped its circulation.(131)
The chaplain received orders and departed from Turlock. The position was temporarily held by Lt. Ledbottom who was able to broadcast his generally ugly ideas. The new chaplain who eventually arrived was more involved at the center and consequently his church services were well attended.(132)
There were civil service employees from the surrounding civilian community working at the center. This permitted them to have wartime employment near home.(133) In each division at the center, there was a balance of civilian and Army personnel. Usually there were from 4 to 17 employees in each. However, the local community of Turlock, because of its smallness, had only a limited supply of qualified civilians so employees had to be found elsewhere to meet the need.(134)
The employment of military women was considered, it was determined that:(135)
As the enlisted personnel at this station is largely limited to service classification, the substitution of WAACs for such personnel would not be advantageous due to lack of using facilities and the nature of the purpose of this station --an Army prison camp.
In the center's newspaper, The Sentry, war bonds sales were noted at 100% via payroll deduction. This garnered a special American flag called the "Minute Man Flag" to be flown at the center. The military personnel also made their presence known in the Turlock area. There was an announcement in The Sentry that Sgt. Marlowe was to marry a girl from Keyes which was just a few miles north from the center.(136)
Civilian involvement could also be found at the center's NCO Club. A clubroom was constructed with the help of local carpenters and plumbers who volunteered time for the endeavor. Local merchants supported this activity as well by providing furnishings.(137)
The Turlock prisoner's handbook, which was read and studied by each prisoner, had this to say:(138)
This Center was established for the sole purpose of rehabilitating and honorably restoring to the Army those of you who can demonstrate by your attitude, conduct, aptness, and bearing that you are worthy of such action. The going will not be easy. Every effort will be made by the members of this command to help you to accomplish this objective. Act and conduct yourself as a soldier should and you will be treated like one . . . The length of your stay here depends entirely on yourself. Do what you are told. Do it promptly and willingly and do it to the best of your ability.
Over the barracks door of Enclosure Q, the receiving unit, hung a sign which read, "Put Out and You Will Get Out." This was later changed to "Put Out and You May Get Out" because of the complaints by prisoners that they did indeed "put out" but they weren't getting out as the sign promised.(139)
The center was divided into three basic units. The first unit in which the prisoner was held was Enclosure Q which was the receiving and quarantine unit. After two weeks, he was assigned to either Enclosure B or C for work detail and drilling. Once progress was seen, usually three to four months, the prisoner would be advanced to the Training Battalion for military training in preparation for restoration to a military unit primarily in a combat zone.(140) All prisoners except those in the Training Battalion wore blue denim with a large letter "P" painted on the back of their jackets and on the front of their right pant leg.(141)
There was one other enclosure, Enclosure D or the "hole." This was solitary confinement which contained 48 cells, 6 feet by 10 feet, and for awhile, 3 standup cells. To be sent to solitary confinement a prisoner was usually insubordinate, tried to escape, refused to work, committed an assault, and stole or damaged property.(142)
Prisoner's papers were examined; he was searched for contraband, fingerprinted, photographed, and given a haircut. His money and valuables were deposited in a sealed container to be returned to him when he was released from Turlock.(144) He was allowed to keep one photograph and would be issued a small amount of money each week to spend on cigarettes and other personal items at the post exchange.(145)
At the orientation, his court martial sentence was explained to him, and he was given the center's handbook which explained the rules.(146) The new prisoner was issued "2 fatigue uniforms (denim blue), 2 fatigue hats, 4 suits of underwear, 4 pairs of stockings, 2 pairs of shoes, 1 barracks bag, 1 raincoat, 1 overcoat (in season), 1 web belt,1 toilet outfit, 2 face towels, 1 bath towel, and 4 handerkerchiefs." The number of these articles could not be exceeded nor any unauthorized articles could be permitted.(147)
The prisoner was told he could receive bona fide visitors on certain days and during certain hours. The visitor's room was located at the main gate guardhouse, and visitation was allowed from 0900 to 1600 each day and the visit was limited to 30 minutes. The same visitor could only be seen once a week. Gift packages were searched to determine if they had acceptable contents. No food could be given, or items found at the post exchange. The Sergeant of the Guard maintained a listing of visitations and noted the prisoner's behavior at each.(148)
The prisoner was also apprised of his mail privileges. Outgoing letters (only three per week) were to be left unopened to allow for censorship. Any letters smuggled out would cost the prisoner his mail rights. All incoming letters were also censored. If an inmate opposed censorship, all of his mail was held until he was released from the center. Food could not be sent, but tobacco, stamps, and a reasonable amount of money could. The money was given to the Fiscal Officer to add to the prisoner's account and distributed when the prisoner needed it. Only three letters were allowed to be kept at one time by the prisoner.(149)
During the preliminary interview, the sociologist interviews the prisoner to determine if there are any special and immediate needs. Also, names and addresses of informational sources are taken which include relatives, former employers, prior correctional and law enforcement agencies, schools, physicians, pastors, and former Army commanders. Letters are sent to these contacts seeking information helpful to the prisoner's rehabilitation. This begins the sociologist's observation of the prisoner which is constant throughout his stay. A prediction of the inmate's possible attitude and conduct is projected and filed. He is interviewed also by other center personnel and the Red Cross.(150) He is assigned to work details, such as cutting wood, doing laundry, and dying clothes to keep him occupied productively.(151)
This stern advice was given orally and was found in the prisoner's handbook as well:(152)
After two weeks in quarantine, the prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was assigned Enclosure C which were those with lesser sentences of up to 6 weeks. These men had work detail without being guarded. They worked in shops, motor pool, mess halls, stables, and other facilities. They also received combat training.(153) The other group went to Enclosure B.
Prisoners in Enclosure B were the bulk of the center's population. This was a large workforce to employ. There were many areas of employment. They could work in the 40-acre victory garden where labor was all by hand and tedious. Vegetables from it were used at the center and also taken to surrounding military bases and hospitals. Turnips grew well much to the chagrin of the eaters. They had turnips fixed in a variety of ways. There was some digging of holes and filling them back in which was very poor on morale and eventually halted.(154)
Other more skilled prisoners had jobs helping civil service employees such as carpenters, painters, electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics, and gardeners. White inmates generally got these jobs because blacks lacked the experience and skills needed. The first commanding officer, Kindervater, as noted earlier had commanded a unit of blacks and had some partiality towards them which showed in the jobs they got. Kindervater also was a cavalry man, and consequently, there were horses and mules in use at the center and stables for which to care.(155)
Each month prisoners were selected to serve at the School for Bakers and Cooks. This was a course in preparing food, baking and cooking. Completion was entered into one's personnel record. Musicians were also chosen and served at the Bandsman School. They would play during marching and at ceremonies, and completion too was entered into their personnel record. Barbers were selected from among the inmates. Many of the tasks at this enclosure were designed to give some vocational training to the inmate as part of his rehabilitation.(156)
The prisoner's handbook stated this in regard to work behavior:(157)
Breaks were given in the morning and afternoon. There was a fatigue call after lunch and prisoners were searched at the end of the workday for contraband. Tools were checked in and out and evaluated for care.(158)
Clothing, equipment and toilet articles were issued only on Wednesday afternoons, Saturday afternoons, and Sunday morning according to the prisoner's needs. Laundry was done on washboards and hung out to dry on clotheslines. Beds had to be made each morning and the barracks swept clean. Bedding was aired if weather permitted with the mattresses leaning against the barracks' outside wall in perfect arrangement.(159)
They had to be clean shaven daily and have short hair. Baths were taken twice a week. There were inspections conducted by the Adjunct Marshall and staff.(160) Their conduct in the mess hall was to be orderly, no loud talk, no wasted food, and no food was to be taken out.(161)
Post exchange purchases were allowed if
there was money in a prisoner's account kept by the Fiscal Officer.
Each week purchases could be made. A form was filled out and submitted
to the Orderly Room. Money was not used; just accounts kept. Each
week a prisoner could buy these items:(162)
For major acts of misbehavior, prisoners would be sent to Enclosure D or solitary confinement. The cells were 6 feet by 10 feet. The inmates were given a bread and water diet. Water was kept in one gallon tin cans, and the bread was simply chunks on a plate. Only four times a day was a prisoner led to the latrine. Bread and water diet caused severe nausea and diarrhea. Many prisoners relieved themselves in their water can and in their clothing because of the severity of it.(163)
Army regulations limited a stay in solitary confinement to two weeks, and the prisoner could not be returned to solitary until two weeks had passed. Maximum confinement was 52 days a year. The obvious concern was sanity. Once out of solitary confinement, the prisoners had to be eased into a regular diet. Fellow prisoners referred to the released inmates as "good Christians" after suffering so much and being cleansed of their sinful misbehavior. One sergeant was known to beat solitary prisoners with a club. He was visited by some escaped prisoners, but he was fortunate he wasn't home. The escapees left their jackets on his doorstep as a message to him.(164)
At one point in solitary confinement, there were three standup cells 3 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet in depth. For very unacceptable misbehavior the prisoner was given this inhumane punishment. There was only a small window for air at the top of one wall. The restriction was two hours at a time in such confinement. One prisoner went psychotic in 20 minutes while another bragged about his durability for withstanding the severe pressures. Someone wrote to his congressman concerning the standup cells. They were removed by a high-ranking Army inspector.(165)
At one point rumors were being circulated In the Turlock civilian community that German prisoners-of-war were being kept at the rehabilitation center. Malouf confirms this by saying that at one time there were some German prisoners in solitary confinement who had been taken off a submarine. These prisoners were there temporarily for their own protection from other German prisoners. They had apparently disclosed secret information to the Allies. The rumor numbers were up to 300 and 400 German prisoners which was not true according to Malouf.(166)
After 3 or 4 months of good behavior in Enclosure B, the prisoner was assigned to Enclosure A, the Training Battalion, his last step before release. This was simply basic training similar to what was received in boot camp. To get to this level, the Provost Marshall evaluated the prisoner's file looking a his conduct record while at Turlock and his original criminal offense and sentence. Those who had committed felonies such as theft, assault or sexual offenses were not normally selected, but those who were sentenced for insubordination, AWOL, or desertion which were not considered serious were selected for this last leg of rehabilitation.(167)
There was always unofficial celebrations for prisoners going to this battalion. There would be songs, cheers, jesting, and even prayer. It was considered to be an important accomplishment by all prisoners.(168)
The Training Battalion had several names originally. It was referred to as the "Disciplinary Battalion" and then the "Honor Battalion." But "training" emphasize the true nature of the unit.(169)
The men in this enclosure wore brown Army fatigues and dress uniforms. They drilled with "victory rifles" which were rifles made of wood. There was instruction in combat tactics accompanied by plenty of physical exercise to prepare the soldier for what was ahead overseas. Vigorous hikes into the surrounding countryside were for 10 to 12 miles with packs and victory rifles. Double time marching was common. There were calisthenics, close order drill, and even an obstacle course to be tackled twice a day. Turlock had the most rigorous training program of any of the rehabilitation centers, but such rigor was required by the Army it was felt by the commander. Towards the war's end exercise gave way to more classroom time.(170)
Throughout the prisoner's stay he was always under scrutiny by the professional behavioral scientists on the staff. There was always concern at all levels about those prisoners who appeared to be psychologically unfit in some fashion. Were they just malingerers or were they truly "psychoneurotics" was the frequently asked question? Were their continued sick call requests legitimate? How does one tell? The commanding general of the Ninth Service Command issued a document on the topic in 1943 to show his distress concerning the matter.(171)
He issued another memorandum stating that rehabilitation centers were for rehabilitation and should not be used for anything else. Prisoners who were beyond rehabilitation because of psychological problems he wanted to be moved along to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks. This included all prisoners with "mental deficiency, psychopathetic personality, major abnormalities of mood, psychoneurotic disorder, prepsychotic and schizophrenic personalities, chronic alcoholism, drug addiction, syphilis of the central nervous system, sexual perversion, stammering to the degree that can't be understood."(172)
It was up to the center's psychiatrist to classify the prisoner concerning these problems along with the aid of the sociologist. The psychiatrist and sociologist's staffs were untrained; therefore, lectures were given and case studies evaluated to help train personnel. To determine the fitness and hence the classification of a prisoner, background, such as civilian life, attitude, and previous problems with authorities were examined.(173)
The attitude the center's personnel toward a prisoner is simply to "get rid of him" according to Weiss. In other words, move the prisoner through the program quickly and out regardless. This conflicts with the true intent of the rehabilitation program. He said, "I have found that a psychopath is restored to duty as readily as a so-called average or normal individual."(175)
His staff apparently found it difficult to be able to determine who is psychotic and who is a malingerer a concern raised by the commanding general above. Weiss says:(176)
The treatment of a severely mal-adjusted psychopath, as I see it here, is a feeling of contempt and hatred on the part of his overseers who look upon the man as a 'gold brick' or 'yard bird,' or is willfully misbehaving, so that higher authority will frown upon him and perhaps give him a DD [dishonorable discharge] which he is seeking. The expression commonly used by officers in this type of case is, 'Yeah, he's crazy - - like a fox,' and they grin saying this.
In a letter to a surgeon friend at Camp Roberts, California, Weiss waxes philosophical about the true malingerer,(177)
We are all selfish and would much prefer to have other men protect the country and do the fighting. I doubt that there are many exceptions to this including myself. We have to use some means of escaping from this; some escape by committing an offense (in minority) and come here; others resort to malingering or simulating; others resort to flight into illness (what you have at Camp Roberts); and still others resort to an exaggeration or few symptoms that were in existence before and are now not only revived with a special aim in view (avoidance of duty), but are magnified as well to be sure that the aim is accomplished. It is the task of the medical officer to unravel this combination and pass on an opinion -- mere prediction -- on what can be expected of the soldier who shows himself unwilling to assume his obligations and responsibilities in his social milieu.
Thus, a battle of wit is disclosed. Who was to win? The professional staff? The malingerer? The truly psychotic? Some malingerers were discovered and dishonorably discharged. Some psychotics were sent to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks. The more psychotic ones went to mental wards such as the one near Turlock, Hammond General Hospital. Average stay there was two months.(178)
Weiss disclosed that 361 prisoners or 4.5% of Turlock prisoners were indeed psychotic and treatment was attempted. Fourteen percent of these were given shock treatment for "prison psychoses" whose "symptoms were mostly episodes of confusion, excitement and depression in various combinations." It took about five months on the average to discover "prison psychoses" in a prisoner.(179)
An interesting finding of Weiss,' which reveals the impact of a person's environmental background on oneself, in this case the deprived lives of blacks, found that 48% of the psychotics were black, and they made up only 15.8% of the center's prisoner population. (180)
The fortunes of war did cause some psychoses. In the spring of 1943, when the campaign for northern Africa began, more psychoses were seen. During the pre-invasion prior to D-Day many more were found, at least 75 inmates per quarter. With apparent victory in hand in Europe this dropped to 28 per quarter. At VE-Day, it was 25 and at VJ-Day it was 2, keeping in mind that there were 1,300 to 1,700 prisoners going through Turlock at one time.(181)
Group therapy was tried in 50 minute sessions which included a lecture and discussion. Prisoners were urged to speak out without the fear of reprisals. The topics discussed were fear, anxiety, and morale. Attendance was compulsory. The program was felt to be successful, but the prisoners were generally suspicious of the psychiatrist believing that information divulged would not be kept confidential.(182)
The average stay at Turlock was 9-10 months.(183) A combination of factors determine when a prisoner was ready to be restored to duty. Two important ones were: the circumstances of his case and the observations done on him during the execution of his sentence. It takes a length of time for observations to be done to adequately evaluate the degree of rehabilitation taking place. The classification board at the center was responsible for this task.(184)
The Psychiatry and Sociology Board, later named the "classification board," had five members including the psychiatrist. The sociologist compiled the personal histories of the prisoners, and the board did the evaluating and interviewing. Interviews at first were held near the end of the prisoner's sentence. This was changed to inter-viewing the prisoner the first and second month, and then again after completion of training. They in turn would file a report with the commander concerning the prisoner's progress and the desire-ability of release and restoration.(185)
If the recommendation was to continue rehabilitation rather than restore to duty, the commander could override according to his will. Kindervater did admonish the board for its reluctance to restore some prisoners to duty and was heard to make the comment, "The more restorations we have the better we will be judge in our record of rehabilitating prisoners."(186)
It was found though that there was a high rate of recidivism (repeated crimes and return to prison) because of Kindervater's rush to release prisoners. Weiss noted that in the first 8,000 prisoners that went through Turlock, 83% were restored to duty. Then for the next two years the rate declined to only 56%187 because the recidivism rate was at 20% in those early years.188 The latter figure of 56% is a similar finding in other studies done at other rehabilitation centers so that should be close to the average.(189)
Once a prisoner was restored, the sentence for his crime was considered fully served, and he was treated like any other soldier in regard to training and occupational assignment. Commanders assured that such men assigned to them were treated just like the others.(190) The restored prisoners were assigned to combat units unless they did not meet the qualifications then they were sent to units to continue their training. They were not resent to the unit where they had committed their original offense. The restored prisoner's personnel file with his rehabilitation record would accompany him to his new assignment so his new unit would be aware of past problems.(191)
The rehabilitation center commanding officer would receive three reports at certain intervals concerning the progress of the restored prisoner. Once a prisoner went overseas, that stopped.(192) A report in the periodical Common Sense told of commanding officers of rehabilitation centers who gave restored prisoners postcards to mail back concerning their personal and military life. One commandant had a set policy of wanting any of his restored prisoners to telephone him immediately if they were thinking of going AWOL.(193)
Letters were sent from restored prisoners thanking the staff at the centers for their work. For example this ex-prisoner wrote, "There isn't a thing you people missed in your training up there. I am well ahead of the others in my drilling and also in my knowledge of weapons." Another, "I am writing to tell you just how much I appreciate all you done for me in helping me to be restored to duty and, Sir, I know that I will do the best of my ability to keep up the trust you and the other officers there put in me."(194)
At an address given at the Turlock Rotarians, Col. James France from the center told his audience that restored prisoners from Turlock, " . . . have been somewhat above average in performance on regular Army assignments." He went on to say that some had become non-commissioned officers.(195)
Weiss stated that Turlock had " . . . restored more soldiers than perhaps half all the other RCs put together! The large correspondence from RC restorees to the commanding officer and other members of the staff, was replete with expressions of gratitude and appreciation . . . A number received good ratings; some made the supreme sacrifice in various theatres of war; a few were decorated for valor."(196)
One article from the War Department entitled "Black Sheep in Action," found that officers and enlisted soldiers in infantry units who were questioned about their restored fellow-infantrymen, gave them average and above average performance rating!(197)
From 1942 to May 1946, Army rehabilitation
centers received a total of 39,352 prisoners. Of that number,
29,944 received rehabilitation, and 17,450 were actually restored
to duty.(199) Such was the legacy of the Rehabilitation Center
at Turlock which has been a county fairgrounds of 50 years with
no hint of what transpired there during those war years of 1942-1945.
These profiles are summaries of the prisoner
cases Malouf documents in volume 2 of his unpublished work "Rehabilitation
at Turlock."(200) These are representative cases of the types
of prisoners found at Turlock. These cases will stop at various
levels depending upon where they were when Malouf stopped writing.
It was up to the sociologist Malouf to provide these documents
to the Psychiatry and Sociology Board.
Prisoner Profile 1(201)
This prisoner is 28 years old and was sentenced to 3 years hard labor and a dishonorable discharge for killing a fellow soldier by striking him in the face. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated from high school at the age of 20. He seemed to be a well-adjusted person who came from a good family. He worked as a mechanic on an assembly line. He was arrested for being drunk and disorderly once. He never served time anywhere. He was at Turlock awaiting an opening at Leavenworth to serve his time. The death was purely accidental. The man was a friend of his, and the blow to the face was ordinary. It was recommended that he was "a fairly good risk" for restoration.
Prisoner Profile 2 (202)
This is a black prisoner who was born in Texas and is the 9th child out of 19 children, all illegitimate. He was never in any trouble and finished the 8th grade at 16. He did farm work and then joined the CCC where he was discharged for fighting. He worked as a cook to helped support his mother. In the Army, he was considered a very good soldier and a leader in his unit. He felt he had not seen the good civilian life that his Army friends boasted about while on AWOL. So he went AWOL to find out. At Turlock, he had good behavior, and he was recommended to be restored to duty.
Prisoner Profile 3 (203)
This prisoner is 19 and sentenced to 1 year hard labor and a dishonorable discharge for stealing a wristwatch and pen and pencil set from fellow soldiers. He had no civilian arrests and finished high school but had some truancies. He had no AWOL's, but he made sick call 10 times in 4 months. He went to Hammond General Hospital for headaches and given glasses as a solution. He had difficulty with young male Army instructors and was teased by his fellow soldiers. He was poked in the side on a continuing basis which drove him nearly to the brink of a breakdown. The psychiatrist diagnosed him as having psychoneuroses and mild hypochondria. The board recommended restoration of duty.
Prisoner Profile 4 (204)
This prisoner is 18 and was sentenced to 5 years hard labor and dishonor- able discharge for going AWOL, escaping, and disobeying an officer. He was the second child of three. He was from Kentucky and had been arrested for destroying private property. He had 3 charges of theft, drinking as a minor, and 1 charge of malicious driving. He enlisted into the Army by falsifying his age by 5 years! He had 6 AWOLs for being absent for 170 days collectively. He had 2 summary court martials and two special court martials. He had 3 escape attempts at Turlock and did 24 hours in solitary confinement. He refused to work and assaulted a guard. Drunkeness seemed to be connected with many of his offenses. It was felt that he was someone who had gotten his way for many years and still wanted it. Because of his age the psychiatrist and the board seemed to think that he deserved another chance and recommended restoration to duty. However, the commander of the Ninth Service Command disagreed, and he spent more time at Turlock where his behavior was good.
Prisoner Profile 5 (205)
For sleeping on the post this 23 year old prisoner was sentenced to 2 years hard labor and a dishonorable discharge. He was from Arkansas and the youngest of 4 children. His parents divorced when he was 17. He had been struck in the face by a horses' hoof which left him permanently blinded in one eye. He graduated from high school and worked at a drug store where he was fired because his girl friend was at his work place too many times. He married her and separated after a few months due to problems with his wife's relatives. He moved out while she was pregnant. He had no arrests but was charged with not providing financially for his estrange wife. He served well at his unit and was liked by all. He said he wasn't sleeping. He did not see the Sergeant until he was only a few feet away. It is not clear if his blinded eye had anything to do with the Sergeant's impression that he was sleeping on duty. His conduct at Turlock was good and his attitude commendable. It was recommended that he be restored to duty.
Prisoner Profile 6 (206)
This 21 old prisoner was charge with using a government car without authority. He was given 7 months hard labor and a dishonorable discharge. He had been reprimanded once for damaging school property but was never arrested. He spent the night in a county jail when he was hitch-hiking home. He had been promoted to sergeant. He had gonorrhea and had been punished twice while with his unit for minor offenses. He was considered to be impulsive but able to think through the consequences of his actions. He wanted to see his girlfriend who lived 30 miles from his post. He and a buddy took a government car to do so. He took the blame fully, but he didn't realize that such an act would warrant such action by the military.
Prisoner Profile 7 (207)
This prisoner is 30 years old and of Mexican-American decent. His father died when he was 15, and his mother remarried. He did not like his step- father and left home because of it. He held down several types of jobs in California. He worked for the CCC. He had been arrested several times as a civilian for crimes of auto theft, drunkenness, and vagrancy. He saw duty in Alaska and was in combat twice. He had 2 AWOLs and disobeyed an officer which earned him two court martials. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison. His major problem had always been alcohol which changes his character when he is under its influence. He doesn't speak English well. He refused to perform a duty required of a non-commissioned officer telling him that he was sick. Because of his cultural background, military life has been hard on him. He said he misses Mexican food, women, and conversation. He did perform well in combat. The recommendation was to restore him to duty.
Prisoner Profile 8 (208)
This 19 year old prisoner is from Brooklyn born to Jewish immigrants. His father died when he was young and his Mother was not well. He quit school when he was 16 where he was often truant. Worked as a shipping clerk but was found to be lazy and absent from work. He had no criminal record. He went AWOL once and was considered a deserter a second time. He was sentenced for rehabilitation. He liked the military and liked the radio school to which he went. He went AWOL after graduating because everybody did as they all were being sent overseas without a leave to see family and friends. The psychiatrist considered him to lack discipline and a sense of responsibility He had no leadership qualities and was introverted.
Prisoner Profile 9 (209)
This prisoner was sentenced to 5 years hard labor for 19 days AWOL and was recommended for dishonorable discharge. He was born in Illinois and was the oldest of 5 children. His father died when he was 14. He completed the 8th grade at the age of 16. He was first arrested for being incorrigible and was sent to state training school. He violated parole and was given 6 more months. At the training school, he was often punished for breaking the smoking rules and was disobedient. He was arrested at 18 for forgery, a vagrancy, and tampering with an motor vehicle and was sentenced to one year at the State Farm. He escaped and was arrested. He served 2 years 9 months at the State Penitentiary. He married at 20, was divorced at 26, and remarried at 29. He worked 7 years as a journeyman electrician and played in a dance band. He was maintaining a good record and seemed to be happy in his second marriage. Assigned as an electrician in an Army engineer unit in Oregon. He went AWOL 3 times. He had one summary court martial and 4 company punishments. He was considered by his unit to be a hindrance and "just no good." In his evaluation, the psychiatrist at Turlock said he was mature and has conformed to strict discipline in his many confinements in and out of the military. He though is sometimes unwilling to respond to orders when he sees no reason for them. He is slow in fulfilling requests and has an improper attitude. His brothers and cousins have served time in prisons. His father died an alcoholic which probably led to his distorted view of life. He refused to have the Army send money to his mother because it would be a financially difficult for him. He felt that he has suffered enough and wanted things other people had. He then got intoxicated and went AWOL. The psychiatrist diagnosed him as being a "constitutional psychopath, mixed type," and recommended dishonorable discharge. The board had a reversed feeling that the rehabilitation he was receiving was beneficial but he needed further training. It was felt that the dishonorable discharge and 5 years hard labor was far too radical of a punishment, and it was reversed based on the prisoner's progress.
1 To research this study, the writer had at his disposal a two volume document, the unpublished work of Lt. Carling Malouf, which was deposited at the CSU, Stanislaus Archive by Dr. Lewis Napton, Professor of Anthropology at CSUS. Dr. Napton had been a student of Dr. Malouf at the University of Montana where he taught social anthropology, historic archaeology, and Pacific ethnology. Volume one contains several chapters of narrative describing the rehabilitation program at Turlock. The second volume contains fascinating prisoner case studies. Also, to accompany the study is a video of the grounds at the time. It is mostly of the "guard mount," or changing of the guard, of which Commander Kindervater was so fond. Lt. Malouf had intended the two volume work and other data he collected to lay the foundation for a Ph.D. dissertation at Columbia University. Once there he became aware that he could not use it because it was too "sociological" and would not satisfy the research requirements of the famed anthropologists at the school. He thus put it aside. His wish is to make his work known and available for study which is being done at the CSUS Archive.
by E.A. Kindervater. Turlock: August 1943.
__________ "Prisoner's Handbook." Turlock: 10 August 1943.
U.S. Office of the Adjunct General. "The Army Correctional System." Washington, DC: 1952.
U.S. War Department. "Absence Without Leave." Pamphlet no. 20-5. Washington, DC:
U.S. War Department. Secretary. "Extracts from Section VI - W.D., Circular 63." Washington, DC: 194?
Wagley, Perry V. "Rehabilitation." Paper presented to the American Psychiatric
Association, Detroit Michigan, 1943.
Weiss, Isidore I. Extracts from a Letter Sent to Colonel R.E. Curtis. Camp Roberts,
CA, 24 May 1943.
_________ Letter Sent to Major Perry V. Wagley, Department of Psychiatry and
Sociology at Six Service Center Command Rehabilitation Center, 1 May 1943.
_________ "Rehabilitation of Military Offenders at the Ninth Service Command
Rehabilitation Center." America Journal
of Psychiatry 103(September 1946), 172-178.
Wharton, Don. "The Army Saves Its Black Sheep." Readers Digest, October 1943.
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Updated 20 October 2015