The Yuma was made for the purpose

The Territorial Prison, built in downtown where our small town Yuma’s history began. The cold brutal walls built up by the hopeless prisoners themselves, from cement and rock, parts of the historic “hellhole” remain but time has eaten at the prison over years and left us with little to claim as our own. This unique, horrid prison built for the baddest of the bad, with plenty of important history behind it. The history of the Territorial Prison first starts out with how it ended up in Yuma. A man named Jose Maria Redondo, who is considered the father of the Territorial prison, was the person to place the location of the prison in Yuma. Since the prison was originally going to be built in Phoenix Arizona, Jose quickly changed the name to Yuma and it was approved to be built there. Another reason he is considered the father of the prison is because he also helped build the prison in 1875. This prison changed the history of the state of Arizona. The Territorial Prison was no ordinary prison, it had unique qualities. This specific prison built in Yuma was made for the purpose of holding prisoners who were too much of a hazard to have around other inmates. Thus began the legend of the Territorial Prison. For many years this prison held the purpose it was built for, then it became a place for Yuma High School to have school sessions when the actual school burnt down. After that, the Territorial Prison became a national park museum. This prison was associated with Yuma Crossing, and National Heritage Area. The history of this prison altered the future of the small town, Yuma. This prison is very important to the state of Arizona because where the prison was being built, maybe back then a family with children would not want to live so close to a prison this dangerous. If I lived in Yuma at the time the prison was being built, if I was able to I would have moved away. This being my opinion, I believe many people did the same as many would have. If the prison was no built where it was built, many people would have started their lives in Yuma Arizona. Many prisoners in the territorial prison may have ended up living in Yuma after they were released. The territorial prison brought running water and air ventilation to Yuma so if it wasn’t for the prison being built there, Yuma would have taken longer to bring more modernized home improvements. The territorial prison had requirements like any other prison, they had to have air conditioning and running water. Some homes in yuma didn’t even have air ventilation while the prisoners did. The prison was built  in Yuma, Arizona. right below the miserable prison, flow the colorado river running north to south. The prisoners yerin and feces would be released into the river. The river was Yuma’s water source, so soon after the prison opened the town began to grow ill. The whole entire town was now sick, except the prisoners were the only ones to not catch the illness. The towns water was contaminated and was not safe.. The prison managed to fix this issue and the natural flow of the river detoxed the river so it was safe and as clean as a river gets. This illness did cause numerous deaths to the town but inside the prison walls death was upon them but because of very different reasons. There were a total of 111 deaths occurring within the prison walls. A total of 104 people were buried in the prison cemetery. Because of the prison, many lives were taken. Prisoners would try and escape but would no succeed and would end up dying instead of physically escaping. Pete Devaux, a convict on his way to Yuma tried to escape by jumping off the train but on his way down hit his head on a rock and resulted in his death. Another inmate who ended their life trying to escape was Ezequiel Bustamante. He was shot while trying to escape from the horrid prison. Jose Lopez, another inmate shot while attempting to free themselves from the prison walls. The very first death in the prison was Richard Russell. November 1, 1882. Many prisoners managed to ended their own lives, John Ryan, John Smith, Sing Quong, William Douglass. (http://www.yumaprison.org/notable-inmates.html) In the year 1909  a school names Yuma Union was built. It was a fairly small school, being that yuma was a fairly small town. In the year 1910 Yuma Union High school school burned down in a tragic fire. The school had no place to have class so they used the next best thing. Yuma Union used the buildings from the prison as classrooms. They would not use the cells because that is obviously not right but they used hospital rooms and offices. The high school occupied the buildings from 1910 to 1914. When the schools football team played against Phoenix and won, the Phoenix team gave the school the nickname “the criminals” and the school proudly adopted the nickname. Sometimes their nickname is shortened to be called “crims” but usually just the criminals. The schools symbol is the face of a hardened criminal. The schools merchandise shop is now called the “Cell Block”. If it weren’t for this prison, none of this history of this school would have happened. If the prison was not built, where would have the high schoolers ended up having class? Would they have had class at all and still been given the opportunity to earn their diploma the way they were. (http://arizonaoddities.com/2012/07/yuma-high-schools-criminal-past-and-present/) Another student who goes to Gila Ridge High School pointed out in her paper more effects that the prison brought. “Positive effects would be that the Prison brought jobs to Yuma. – being a guard and bounty hunters are jobs that the prison brought to Yuma. Negative effects would be that, the prison brought diseases and illnesses to the people in the town. Since the prison had running water and was more upstream than the town, the prison would flush their sewage into the Colorado River and from there the town would get sick.” Stated Angelina Manriquez. After reading Angelina’s paper on The Yuma Territorial Prison, it helped me better understand that the prison did have mass effects on our town. The prison brought change to the small town, however, not always good changes. I admire the way the prison altered the town in ways that nobody would expect. From Angelina’s paper I now understand the significance of this idiosyncratic prison. Our used to be monotonous town became the small town with the new prison for all the dangerous criminals, our town became known for the first time. These dangerous criminals were feared by people, they became well known inmates, famous if anything. Barney K. Riggs, Sentence for life for killing a man involved with his wife. Pearl Hart, Along with Joe Boot, robbed the Globe to Florence stagecoach. She became a media sensation around the entire country. Used her feminine wiles with both prisoners and guards, pardoned after 2 years. Elena Estrada, a crime of passion some would say. Elena Estrada was sentence to seven years for manslaughter, when she stabbed her unfaithful lover, then cut open his chest, pulled out his heart, and threw the body mass into his face. Frank Leslie, Worked for Wyatt Earp at the Oriental Bar in Tombstone Arizona. Killed billy Claiborne of the Clanton Gang. Killed his girlfriend in a drunken rage. William Jordan Flake, Pioneer in Arizona in 1877. Arrested for unlawful plural marriage, while many flied to Mexico to avoid prosecution but ended up serving 6 months in prison. Flake lived out his days as a respected community leader and cattleman in snowflake, Arizona, with his two wives, Prudence and Lucy, and their 20 children. People rarely knew him by his real name and just called him “Mormon Prisoner”.   The Territorial Prison had many various unique and different significances throughout the years it has been opened and the years it has been used as a historical museum. The history of the territorial prison shows the unique qualities of it. The both good, and the bad effects the prison had on the town. The purposes the prison served as throughout the years and the economics the prison brought to Yuma. Lastly, the history on Yuma Territorial prison had on Yuma and the significance the prison had.