- Early Years as a Military Prison. In 1775, Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala (1745-97) mapped and named rugged Alcatraz Island, christening it La Isla de los Alcatraces, or Island of the Pelicans, due to its large population of sea birds.
- Doing Time as a Federal Prison: 1934-63. In 1933, the Army relinquished Alcatraz to the U.S. Justice Department, which wanted a federal prison that could house a criminal population too difficult or dangerous to be handled by other U.S. penitentiaries.
- Famous Inmates. Among those who did time at The Rock was the notorious Prohibition-era gangster Al “Scarface” Capone, who spent four-and-a-half years there during the 1930s.
- Escape Attempts from Alcatraz. Over the years, there were 14 known attempts to escape from Alcatraz, involving 36 inmates. The Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that of these would-be escapees, 23 were captured, six were shot and killed during their attempted getaways, two drowned and five went missing and were presumed drowned.
References. Adams, Lorraine (March 11, 1992). "Perot's Interim Partner Spent 7 1 ⁄ 2 Years As Pow". Dallas Morning News via The Seattle Times He was one of the Alcatraz Gang – a group of 11 prisoners of war who were separated because they were leaders of the prisoners' resistance.
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- Al Capone played banjo in the inmate band. The notorious gangster and mob boss was among the first prisoners to occupy the new Alcatraz federal prison in August 1934.
- There were no confirmed prisoner escapes from Alcatraz. A total of 36 inmates put the supposedly “escape-proof” Alcatraz to the test. Of those convicts, 23 were captured, six were shot to death and two drowned.
- Alcatraz is named for sea birds. Before criminals became its denizens, the windswept island was home to large colonies of brown pelicans. When Spanish Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala became the first known European to sail through the Golden Gate in 1775, he christened the rocky outcrop “La Isla de los Alcatraces,” meaning “Island of the Pelicans.”
- In spite of his nickname, the “Birdman of Alcatraz” had no birds in the prison. While Robert Stroud was serving a manslaughter sentence for killing a bartender in a brawl, he fatally stabbed a guard at Leavenworth Prison in 1916.
Aug 04, 2020 · Classified as a concentration model, where difficult-to-manage prisoners from other institutions would be concentrated under one roof, Alcatraz served as an experiment. Segregation on this scale had not before been practiced, and only time would indicate its success or failure.
Oct 30, 2020 · Alcatraz had one luxury that most other prisons lacked: "reasonably hot" showers. Showers weren't private, and had to be quick, but they were at least not frigid. It's suspected that this gesture was merely an attempt to prevent prisoners from getting acclimated to the cold water of the Bay.
During the Civil War, in the 1860s, the 22-acre island was used as a military prison. Then, in 1934, the U.S. Department of Justice took it over. Alcatraz was about to become the toughest and most feared prison in America.
From 1892 to 1899, the number of prisoners averaged only 35. The Spanish-American War changed everything. In April 1900 there were 441 prisoners on Alcatraz! Permanent Prison and Professionalism . Upper and Lower Prisons The Spanish-American War brought an influx of volunteer and regular army troops through the port of San Francisco.
The Battle of Alcatraz, which lasted from May 2 to 4, 1946, was the result of an unsuccessful escape attempt at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary by armed convicts. Two Federal Bureau of Prisons officers—William A. Miller and Harold Stites—were killed along with three of the perpetrators.
- Extreme Punishment. At the best of times, conditions in Alcatraz were not exactly a barrel of laughs, but there was a particularly harsh punishment for prisoners who refused to follow the rules of the prison.
- Battle of Alcatraz. The Battle of Alcatraz, or the “Alcatraz Blastout” as it was also known, took place between May 2nd and 4th, 1946. Six prisoners managed to get hold of weapons and cellhouse keys, but there was a minor hitch in their plans.
- Mysterious Death. There were many stories of paranormal activity in Alcatraz, and one particular incident occurred in Cell 14D. Sometime in the 1940s, a prisoner who was locked in the cell screamed all night that something with glowing eyes was trying to kill him.
- You’ve Gotta Have a Hobby. Stroud was sent to prison for killing a bartender who attacked one of his prostitutes when he was a pimp, and he quickly became known as a violent and dangerous inmate.
Alcatraz Island (more accident than design) was destined to become the army's first long-time prison. In the summer of 1861, the commander of the Department of the Pacific, Brig. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner, found an expedient solution to the problems of the growing numbers of military prisoners and of improving military security by ordering the transfer of prisoners in the Presidio guardhouse to ...