James C. Lucas (1912–1963) was an American
criminal who served a life sentence in Alcatraz. He is best known for
being part of an attempted escape from Alcatraz Penitentiary in 1938,
and for attacking Al Capone in the prison's laundry room on June 23,
Lucas was originally sentenced to thirty years'
imprisonment for bank robbery and violation of the Dyer Act (interstate
trafficking of stolen vehicles). He arrived at Alcatraz in January
1935 from the Texas State Prison and was known there as James "Texas
Bank Robber" Lucas.
Attack on Capone
On June 23, 1936, Lucas stabbed Al Capone in the
back with a pair of shears from the prison barber shop. Capone had
been working in the laundry area 10 feet (3 m) away. Lucas was sent to
solitary confinement for his brutal attack on Capone.
Alcatraz escape attempt
In the spring of 1938, James Lucas, Thomas R.
Limerick and Rufus Franklin planned an escape from Alcatraz. Their
escape plan began by incapacitating an unarmed custodial worker
supervising a work detail on the top floor. Once the supervising
worker was rendered unconscious, the convicts would escape through a
window to the rooftop, where they would incapacitate an armed guard
and leave the island via a seized police boat.
They enacted their escape plan on May 23, 1938 in
the prison's mat shop, where they assaulted custodial worker Royal
Kline with hammer blows to his head. They proceeded to the roof, where
an armed guard shot both Franklin and Limerick, although Lucas wasn't
shot. Other guards arrived at the scene. Franklin, Limerick and Lucas
were cornered and surrendered to the guards.
The custodial worker died of his injuries the next
day, and Thomas Limerick, one of the wounded convicts, also died.
Lucas and the other surviving convict, Rufus Franklin, were tried for
murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
James Crittenton LUCAS was born on Jun 11
1912 in Midland, TX. He died on Nov 28 1998 in Sacramento, Sacramento
County, California. Lucas went down in the history books for stabbing
Al Capone while at Alcatraz.
Name: James C. Lucas
Inmate #: 224-AZ
Crime: bank robbery and auto theft
Sentence: 30 years
Notes: arrived at Alcatraz in January 1935. Also wanted in Texas,
where he was sentenced for life for escape, bank robbery and assault
to murder. In 1936, he had attacked Al Capone with a pair of scissors,
reportedly out of resentment for Capone's refusal to join in a prison
mutiny earlier that year. Bureau of Prisons: "transferred from
Alcatraz (no date available), paroled in April 1958, violated parole
and returned to custody, released from USP McNeil Island camp via
presidential commutation of sentence."
Tried to escape from Alcatraz on 23 May 1938,
Shortly after 2 p.m., Franklin, Limerick and Jimmy
Lucas made their way from the woodworking shop over to the top floor
of the factory building. They brought along with them a hammer, lead
weights and pieces of iron. Senior custodial officer, R.C. Cline, was
patrolling the floor unarmed. The three convicts without warning beat
Cline repeatedly over the head with the hammer.
The three then went out of a window and crawled up
onto the roof after cutting through barbwire. There, they attacked the
armed guard on-duty by flinging the lead weights and pieces of iron at
the glass tower from three directions. The shatter-proof glass held up
against the barrage and only one lead weight managed to get through,
slightly injuring the guard's leg. The guard opened fire and hit
Franklin in the shoulder and Limerick in the head. Lucas gave up as
soon as other guards rushed up to the roof. Their goal was to attempt
to disarm other guards with the weapon from the first guard, seize the
prison boat and make their way off the island.
Limerick died from the wound inflicted to his head
that evening in the prison hospital. R.C. Cline, 36, died the
following day at the Marine Hospital from the wounds inflicted by the
convicts. He left behind a wife and four daughters. Franklin and Lucas
were given life sentences for the murder of Cline.