Carnes in his prison cell
|Born||Clarence Victor Carnes
January 14, 1927
Daisy, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
|Died||October 3, 1988
Springfield, Missouri, U.S.A.
Clarence Victor Carnes (January 14, 1927 – October 3, 1988) known as The Choctaw Kid was a Choctaw best known as the youngest inmate sentenced to Alcatraz, and for his participation in the bloody escape attempt known as the "Battle of Alcatraz".
Clarence Carnes was born in Daisy, Oklahoma, the oldest of five children. He was sentenced to life imprisonment at the age of 16 for the murder of a garage attendant during an attempted hold-up. In early 1945, he escaped from the Granite Reformatory with a number of other prisoners, but was recaptured and sentenced to an additional 99 years for a kidnapping carried out while he was on the run. He was recaptured in April 1945 and sent to Leavenworth, but made another attempt to escape while in the custody of the United States Marshals Service and was transferred to Alcatraz along with an additional 5-year sentence. There, he was assessed by psychiatrist Romney M. Ritchey and found to have a psychopathic personality, and to be emotionally unstable with an I.Q. of 93.
Carnes arrived on Alcatraz on July 6, 1945. On May 2, 1946, Carnes and five other inmates participated in a failed attempt to escape from Alcatraz which turned into the bloody "Battle of Alcatraz", so-called because three inmates and two prison officers died. After the escape failed, he was tried for murder along with the two other survivors, Sam Shockley and Miran Edgar Thompson, and was found guilty of participating in the plot. Shockley and Thompson were sentenced to death, however Carnes was not executed because he had not directly participated in the murder of the officers, instead being sentenced to an additional 99 years. Some corrections officers who had been taken hostage, testified that he had refrained from following instructions to kill them.
Carnes remained on Alcatraz until its closure in 1963, spending most of the time there in the segregation unit. He claimed that he had received a postcard from Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers, John and Clarence, which read "Gone fishing", which was a code word that their escape had succeeded. No material evidence of such a postcard has been found.
Parole, re-incarceration, death
Despite having been given a life sentence in Oklahoma for murder, as well as a sentence of 203 years on federal charges, Carnes was paroled in 1973 at the age of 46. However, his parole was revoked twice due to parole violations and he was sent back to prison. He died of AIDS-related complications on October 3, 1988 at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, and was buried in a paupers' grave.
In November 1988, Massachusetts organized crime figure James J. "Whitey" Bulger, who had befriended Carnes while on Alcatraz, paid for his body to be exhumed and reburied on land in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Bulger reportedly bought a lavish $4,000 bronze casket and paid for a car to transport Carnes' remains from Missouri to Oklahoma. Carnes is buried at the Billy Cemetery in Daisy, Oklahoma.
In popular culture
Carnes' life was the subject of a two-part 1980 TV movie made by Telepictures Corporation (now owned by Warner Bros.): Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story. Each part was 95 minutes. Michael Beck (of The Warriors fame) portrayed Clarence Carnes. Also starring were (in alphabetical order): John Amos, G. W. Bailey, Art Carney, Ronny Cox, Peter Coyote, Robert Davi, Louis Giambalvo, Alex Karras, Ed Lauter, Richard Lynch, James MacArthur, Joe Pantoliano, Will Sampson, Telly Savalas and Jeffrey Tambor. The movie bears the disclaimer: "This motion picture is based on a true story, but some names, places and incidents have been changed for dramatic effect."
The Battle of Alcatraz was dramatized in the TV movie Six Against the Rock. While most of those involved retained their real names (David Carradine was Bernard Coy, Jan-Michael Vincent was Miran Thompson, etc.), Carnes was renamed Dan Durando, portrayed by Paul Sanchez.
- Ritchey, Romney M. (27 July 1945). "Carnes Psychiatric Report (1945)". Archived from the original on 6 September 2012.
- Ranalli, Ralph (19 January 1998). "Whitey paid for Alcatraz inmate's funeral Bulger didn't forget `Rock' pal" (PDF). Boston Herald. Archived from the original on 6 September 2012.
- moviespectator.com review of Six Against the Rock
- Howie Carr's Clarance Carnes page Dead Link