The Rock Closes And The Bad Guys Move To Illinois

Alcatraz, the federal penitentiary on Alcatraz island in San Francisco Bay closed on March 21, 1963.

During its 30 years of operation Alcatraz housed some 1,576 of America’s most ruthless criminals including  Robert Franklin Stroud (the “Birdman of Alcatraz”), George “Machine Gun” Kelly,  Mickey Cohen, and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis.

Of course, Al Capone himself spent several years at “The Rock” and was paroled in late 1939.

Corridors in the prison were named after famous American streets like Broadway and Michigan Avenue.

By the late 1950’s the cost of keeping a prisoner at Alcatraz was 3 times that of most prisons. Major repairs to the structure of the buildings were sorely needed.  The cost was estimated at $5 million and in 1961, engineers determined that the project was a lost cause.

Robert F. Kennedy submitted plans for a new maximum security prison to be built at Marion, Illinois. The facility at Marion opened in 1963 and most of the original inmates were transfers from Alcatraz.


More from John Calhoun

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