Sam Shockley (Richard Samuel Shockley)

Sam Shockley

Richard Samuel “Sam” Shockley Jr. (January 12, 1909 – December 3, 1948) was an inmate at Alcatraz prison who participated in the Battle of Alcatraz in 1946.  Shockley was the son of Richard “Dick” Shockley and Anna Bearden. He was born in Arkansas City, Arkansas. Shockley was arrested for bank robbery and kidnapping in Oklahoma and sentenced to life imprisonment in May 1938. Examined by prison psychiatrists, Shockley was found to have an unstable character, he was found to have a low IQ of 54, and was prone to violent rages.[citation needed] He was transferred to Alcatraz from Leavenworth as it was felt the strict routine there would better manage him but even here was felt to be uncontrollable and spent much of his time in the prison’s isolation unit, D-wing. In May 1941 he attempted escape from one of the island’s workshops along with Joe Cretzer, Arnold Kyle and Lloyd Barkdoll. During the escape attempt the men held a number of guards hostage, but gave up when they failed to cut through the tool-proof bars.  On May 2, 1946, after inmates Bernard Coy, Joseph Cretzer, and Marvin Hubbard took guard Cecil Corwin by surprise, they asked Shockley which cell Rufus Franklin was in. This enabled Coy to release Franklin but he was supposed to be in a cell on the third tier but Shockley had informed them that he was moved into a cell that was on the first floor, which were electronically operated. Coy was aware of the red light that lit up in the gun gallery but they were unaware of a similar light that was in the armory. If the guard in the gun gallery didn’t alert the other guards in the armory then it was an alert that there was a problem. The escape attempt failed due to the jamming of the recreation yard door and turned into an armed confrontation which lasted two days. This was the bloodiest escape attempt witnessed on the island. Two prison guards, Bill Miller and Harold Stites, and three inmates, Coy, Cretzer and Hubbard, were all shot dead. Shockley, along with Miran Thompson and Clarence Carnes, was found guilty at his subsequent trial. Nineteen-year-old Carnes escaped the death penalty after some corrections officers who had been taken hostage, testified that he had refrained from following instructions to kill them. Although Shockley pleaded insanity, he and Thompson both received death sentences. They were executed in the San Quentin gas chamber on December 3, 1948.


  • January, 12, 1909
  • USA
  • Arkansas City, Arkansas


  • December, 03, 1948
  • USA
  • San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California

Cause of Death

  • Execution in gas chamber

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