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July 8, 1974

Escape From Custody: A Study of Alcoholism and Institutional Dependency as Reflected in the Life Record of a Homeless Man

JAMA. 1974;229(2):210. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230400070046

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While interviewing alcoholics at a Salvation Army Center in 1945, Robert Straus came across Frank Moore, who was obviously more intelligent, better read, and more thoughtful than the other skid row inhabitants. Then began a relationship between the researcher and the derelict lasting until Frank's death in 1972. Straus made a few attempts to enlist Frank in treatment programs, but soon found this useless. He did continue to be a friend, correspondent, and confidante. Frank willingly told Straus much of his life history at the start of their acquaintance and continued to keep him informed, mainly by letters, of the events of the rest of his life—chiefly visits to jails and hospitals, interspersed with drinking bouts. His letters included his reflections on alcoholism, treatment programs, the welfare system, the courts, and the people he encountered. This book consists largely of Frank's own statements, a few letters from his mother, social