Alcatraz Prison History

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Early in the 20th century, a new wave of crime swept across the nation. In the 1920’s and 30’s the Volstead Act encouraged illegal alcohol distribution that became a very lucrative business. This sharp rise in crime formed organized gangs that became more and more violent. President Herbert Hoover decided at that time to crack down on crime and this led to the creation of larger, higher capacity federal prisons. Alcatraz prison was one of the products of this decision, and is possibly the most famous prison in American history. Alcatraz Island is located offshore the San Francisco Bay in California. This penitentiary was home to the nation’s worst criminals such as “Machine Gun” Kelly, Al Capone, Arthur “Doc” Barker, and Alvin Karpis. (Blakely …show more content…
The stern code of silence developed into more relaxing conversation and prisoners were allowed to converse inaudibly. Nonetheless, the penitentiary remained to be unpopular in the states into the 1950s. It was by far the costliest prison establishment in the United States and remained to be understood by most as America's most extreme prison. In the yearly report for 1952, Director James V. Bennett requested a more available institution other than Alcatraz. A 1959 report stated that Alcatraz was almost three times more expensive to run than the average US prison. It cost $10 per prisoner every day compared to the $3 in most other prisons. The problem of Alcatraz was heightened when people realized that Alcatraz had immense damage to its’ structure due to the exposure to the wind, air, and salt and would require a repair fee of 5 million dollars. (Crofton 23)
Considerable improvement started in 1958 but by 1961 the prison was assessed by inspectors to be a lost cause and Robert F. Kennedy sent in plans for a brand-new maximum-security prison at Marion, Illinois. Shortly after the “Great Escape” from Alcatraz in 1962, the prison was the suspect of intense investigations. With the large architectural problems and continued expense, the prison ended up closing in March of 1963. The last report from the federal Bureau of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary

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