ALCATRAZ HISTORY - Who was Alcatraz built for?
WHO WAS ALCATRAZ BUILT FOR?
Who ended up on Alcatraz? And why?
The federal government wanted to prove to the American public that it was tough on crime. The Great Depression wrought a severe crime surge in the 1920s and 1930s, with organized crime a real and growing threat. Prohibition resulted in gangster activity. Law-enforcement often seemed helpless against the ruthless, violent gangster tactics that became more prevalent by the day. Public fear triggered the Feds' decision to open a maximum-security, minimum-privilege facility to house the national prison system's most incorrigible inmates.
In 1934, the old military prison on Alcatraz got a face lift and a variety of security upgrades. Tool-proof bars were installed, all utility tunnels were cemented to eliminate the possibility of crawling through them to escape, and tear gas canisters were permanently installed in the dining room ceiling. Guards and guard stations were strategically placed to further heighten security.
The conditions on Alcatraz were not designed to punish its inmates but the island's isolated location and purpose imbued it with the lore and legend that have been associated with it over the years. It never held more than 275 prisoners (always falling short of its 336 capacity), so it was never overcrowded. The lack of privacy so common in other prisons did not exist on Alcatraz – the one-man-to-a-cell living conditions actually made it a more desirable place to be incarcerated than other prisons.
These somewhat humane conditions notwithstanding, Alcatraz certainly had its share of unpleasantness. Inmates weren't allowed to speak to each other except during meals and recreation periods. The cold waters surrounding the prison made escape more difficult and made the prison itself a chilly environment, particularly on the lower floors. Some of the cells in "D Block" (namely, the "Strip Cell" and the "Hole") were designed to torture inhabitants on emotional and physiological levels that could be worse than any physical punishment.
Wardens from the nation's penitentiaries were polled and permitted to send their most difficult inmates to Alcatraz. By August 1934, "The Rock" received 11 inmates from McNeil Island, 53 from Atlanta, and 102 from Leavenworth. Among those numbers included Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Robert "Birdman of Alcatraz" Stroud, Floyd Hamilton (driver for Bonnie and Clyde), and Alvin "Creepy" Karpis. The remaining 1,576 who arrived later were not notorious gangsters but prisoners who refused to follow rules, who were considered dangerous, or who required closer supervision to prevent escape. In fact, once a prisoner was no longer considered a threat (usually after approximately five years on Alcatraz), he could be transferred off the island and finish his term in another Federal prison.
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We pride ourselves on offering you Alcatraz Ferry and Audio Tour Tickets free of any service charge! Every Alcatraz ferry ticket we offer is combined with a Bay Cruise or Sightseeing Tour. Other websites charge as much as $15.95 extra per ticket, but our adult Alcatraz ferry tickets are always $30.00. How do we keep our prices low? We earn a commission on the second part of the package, letting us focus on what really matters; finding you honestly priced tickets for the vacation you will always remember.
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