William Short

Finger print card for William J Short, prisoner number 9333, lists fingers of right hand on top & fingers of left hand below.
William Short's Oregon State Penitentiary fingerprint card. Enlarge image
Prison life was not a new experience for William Short when he began to serve his sentence at the Oregon State Penitentiary for setting up and operating a distillery, and assault with a dangerous weapon. He was previously convicted of Grand Larceny and served over four years in San Quentin from July 1917 to September 1921. 

His inmate file includes a report from the FBI detailing his many run-ins with the law, which ranged from liquor violations; to armed robbery; to drunk driving, not only in Oregon but northern and southern California, Nevada, and Arizona as well. He also entered into a bigamous marriage in Nevada after his release from the Oregon State Penitentiary.  

Short was sentenced in Jackson County to two, three-year sentences to run concurrently. At the time of his arrest, he assaulted the arresting officers with a loaded gun. The District Attorney noted that his wife had filed for divorce and that Short did “not furnish shelter, food or clothing for her at any time.” He also added that Short‘s “prior reputation has been bad, he being of a vicious nature.”

In February of 1926 William Short was one of seven inmates wounded in a riot at the penitentiary. The prisoners began their protest in the dining hall, and guards were brought in to bring the situation under control. In a February 17 article in The Oregonian about the incident, it was stated that most of the wounded prisoners would be released within ten days. However, he was punished for his role by being “dressed in stripes and transferred to the prison ‘bull pen.’”

Short was discharged in October of 1927, and the FBI report indicates that he died in Berkeley, California in April of 1955, with a consistent pattern of law breaking throughout his adult life.