|As the highest security prison, Alcatraz kept its inmates under the tightest controls. Inmates were housed one man to a cell. Two-person cells, four-person cells, and open dormitories were common in other federal prisons. Inmates at other prisons spent most of their days out of their cells at mandatory work programs, educational classes, and recreational activities.
Alcatraz inmates had to earn their way out of their cells through good behavior. Everything other than food, medical care, shelter, clothes, legal representation, letters to family members, and religious services was considered a privilege.