Clarence Carnes

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Clarence Victor Carnes (14 January 1927 - 3 October 1988) was a Native American man best known as the youngest inmate incarcerated in Alcatraz Prison and for his participation in the Battle of Alcatraz.


At the age of 16, Carnes was sentenced to life imprisonment for Murder after he shot and killed a garage attendant during an attempted hold-up, and imprisoned in the Granite Reformatory. In 1945, he escaped from prison, but was recaptured in April and sentenced to 99 years in prison for a kidnapping that occurred while he was on the run, to be served in Fort Leavenworth. While held in Leavenworth, he attempted to escape again, but failed and was transferred to Alcatraz after receiving an additional five year sentence for attempted escape from custody. While held at Alcatraz, he was assessed by psychiatrist Romney M. Ritchey and found to have an IQ of 93 and a psychopathic personality.

Battle of Alcatraz

On 2 May 1946, prisoners Bernard Coy and Marvin Hubbard, who had been conspiring with Carnes to escape from Alcatraz, attacked corrections officer William Miller and beat him before using his keys to release Carnes and fellow conspirator Joseph Cretzer. They then stole several rifles and gas grenades from the gun gallery and used them to force the guards to release Sam Shockley and Miran Edgar Thompson, before taking Miller and other guards hostage. However, the escape attempt failed when Coy raised the alarm after firing at prisons corrections officers but failing to kill them. Cretzer then fired on the hostages, wounding three, including Miller, who later died of his injuries. The ensuing standoff, during which a second corrections officer was killed, lasted two days until squads of armed officers managed to breach the prison and opened fire, killing Coy, Hubbard and Cretzer. Shockley, Thompson and Carnes then surrendered. They were charged with murder in the aftermath of the Battle of Alcatraz in relation to the deaths of the two corrections officers. Shockley and Thompson were sentenced to death, whereas Carnes was sentenced to 99 years on the grounds that he had, according to surviving hostages, refused to kill hostages.


After the Battle of Alcatraz, Carnes remained in Alcatraz, claiming that he had received a postcard from Frank Morris and John & Clarence Anglin indicating that their escape had succeeded, although this was never proven. He was released on parole in 1973, but was returned to prison after his parole was revoked due to violations. Carnes died of AIDS in 1988 at the Medical Centre for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. He was buried in a pauper's grave, but his body was later exhumed and reburied on Native American land according to specifications from Carnes's friend Whitey Bulger.