15 Thrilling Facts About Alcatraz Prison

One of the most famous and well-known prisons, Alcatraz, is established on Alcatraz Island and it was built during the California Gold Rush. At the same time, for defense purposes, the US government made a decision to build a fortress on the island. Don’t miss any single facts about Alcatraz prisons!

1 How Alcatraz Prison Got Its Name

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Spanish Juan Manuel de Ayala, who mapped San Francisco Bay in 1775, was a naval officer and Investigator where he designated today’s Yerba Buena Island as La Isla de Los Alcatraces. The Alcatraz unified prison was located on a specific island (Alcatraz Island) in the bay of San Francisco, California, US. In 1775, the name of Yerba Buena Island was given to it by Juan de Ayala and after applied the name to the rock, which is now called Alcatraz Island. Captain Frederick W. Beechey, who was an English searcher and naval officer, kept this name.

Many people convicted of criminal offenses on Alcatraz Island were Condemned to death. Some individuals sentenced differed from others because they were transferred to San Quentin State Penitentiary and given the option of execution by the gas chamber. A monthly tradition was set up where Alcatraz prison would allow prisoners to meet people visiting from Alcatraz, which was led by Warden.

Duhaut-Cilly wrote that when exiting Alcatraz Island in August 1827, many small birds were seen on the island.

The history of the escape from the Alcatraz Triathlon began in 1969 a group of college students stormed the abandoned prison on Alcatraz Island, swam over 1.5 mi (2.42 km) to reach freedom, and completed an escape from the prison that was recounted in many documentaries.

2 Criminal Robert Franklin Stroud Got Fame As The Birdman Of Alcatraz

alcatraz prison facts

The crazy Robert Franklin Stroud also dubbed as Birdman Of Alcatraz was thought to be a famous inmate from the same prison when Mexico and the US were at war. It was also revealed that inmates used to talk to their visitors through an intercom system, and a correctional officer was present during the whole conversation.

3 Correctional Officers In Alcatraz Have Been Appointed For Most Difficult Job On This Island

alcatraz prison facts

Communication between prisoners and their visitors is monitored for security purposes by correction officers on Alcatraz Island. The majority of the prison staff consisted of correctional officers who had a vital role to play in the detection and prevention of escape attempts by some of the notorious offenders.

Alcatraz was a high-security federal prison that had some of the most lavish and expensive cells compared to state prison facilities, but the same level of services were given to inmates in other prisons at a lower price. The facilities have not changed over the years.

Correctional officers had the toughest job- they had to sit alone in an elevated tower all night. Without any human contact or nearby distractions, correctional officers perform a solitary job.

They are surrounded by inmates day-in-day-out and have to regulate the recreation yard, which is full of those prisoners. They were given lessons and tasks which they followed the scheduled timeline for. They were rotated four times a year through these follow-ups sessions.

Prison guards often had to count cells by counting doors. They would line up the doors with a mallet, tap on them to see whether they are closed or not, then count the number of cells in each door. Every day, correctional officers had to count the amount of inmates in their facility, especially during night hours.

Correctional officers had to do required tasks, such as searching dirty laundry for illegals and standing in a gun gallery. The chief task for the correctional officers was to inspect the prisoners. Officers who worked for Alcatraz were all given apartments and other benefits by the institution where they can live with their families. From the year 1934 to 1963, it served as a federal prison for some of the most dangerous civil offenders. Alcatraz became known as one of the most notorious prisons and was located beside a west coastal lighthouse.

4Alcatraz Is Most Difficult Location For Prison Escape

alcatraz prison facts

The prisoners were provided with hot showers and were watched constantly to ensure that they couldn’t attempt an escape. This caused a psychological effect on the prisoners and some prisoners from this infamous prison were transferred in 1959 to a medical center for federal prisoners. Inmates are also sent there for life imprisonment and did not arrive from any particular prison. They came from all different types of prisons due to their insubordination and bad behavior.

5Prison Serves Many Facilities To Inmates Including Hot Showers & Privilege Of Visitation

Alcatraz prison was so hard that it maintained some balance between discipline and humanity. Those prisoners who finished their sentence were sent to other, typically federal prisons. Life in prison was not pleasant but at the same time was not obscenely difficult because they had access to many facilities such as hot showers and Visitation privileges with their visitors every month. Military prisoners were sent to work there during 1909-1911. There was a disciplinary barracks there with some people being forced to stay there indefinitely. Some people were assigned to the place for six to eight years.2Alcatraz Is Most Difficult Location For Prison Escape

Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, California was originally occupied by Native Americans as an act of protest in the month of November 1969. In the month of June 1971, federal marshals forced them to leave the island. And in December 1962, Franck C. Weatherman (the last known prisoner) was transferred to Alcatraz.

6 Alcatraz Prison Is Also Known For Billionaire Inmates Like Drug Lord EL Chapo

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There were a number of notorious prisoners throughout the history of Alcatraz Island when it was used as a prison by the federal government.

The most ignoble at this prison is Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, who is better known as El Chapo. El Chapo is one of the new lodgers at the federal prison in western Colorado who called Alcatraz of the Rockies, which is of course better known at the other federal prisons as well. His net worth has been estimated at least billion dollars while he was also known to be one of the world’s biggest drug dealers.

Another one, Theodore Kaczynski, who was also called the Unabomber. Theodore Kaczynski, was confined because of his leading role in formatting and mailing something around sixteen eruptive devices. He is spending 8 life sentences for killing 3 other people and harming 23 people.

Robert Hanssen is another one, a senior FBI agent who worked in counterintelligence till the period when they found out that he had been giving details to the Soviet Union for over 20 years through his work. The information that was given through Hanssen was extremely important in the case of executions of American agents and now he was convicted with 15 life sentences. Harold Nicholson, Tyler Bingham, Michael Swango, O.G Mack, Terry Nichols and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are some of the many that have received life sentences for crimes committed.

7 Famous Prisoners In Alcatraz

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An Alcatraz penitentiary, located in San Francisco, was home to many notorious prisoners, such as Machine Gun Kelly and Al Capone. Other famous names, including Frank Morris, John Anglin and more were also incarcerated on this island. However, none of the inmates made any escape attempt from their prison. This US federal prison was used during the Civil War by the military prisoners and one of Their prisoners, nicknamed ‘The Birdman’ because he kept all these birds with him despite the not having any pets policy at Alcatraz, was very famous.

The prisoners who were sent to the Alcatraz federal penitentiary were not necessarily known as gangsters, but some of them refused to abide by the rules and cross limits of Alcatraz. With escape risks in every matter, the prisoners named Al Capone, John Anglin, Frank Morris and Machine Gun Kelly were represented to be hazardous inmates.

Alcatraz had rules and prisoners were usually told to behave in a specific way, and they would be sent to another prison on Alcatraz if they did not follow the rules. There were strict guidelines for prisoner movement and schedules during their time at Alcatraz. Inmates at the Alcatraz federal penitentiary had four possessions: clothing, food, medical facilities and shelter. They were ranked on their behavior and these privileges could be earned by working at the Alcatraz penitentiary on Alcatraz Island.

They were given access to many assets, had their family members visit them, and were permitted cultural activities like music and art. After spending five years there, they were finally decided whether they had shifted their behavior or not, and if they had shifted then they were released back in a regular prison far from the Island and the Inmates who remained on Alcatraz Island never tried to escape.

8 Famous Alcatraz Has 4 Blocks For Living Area

alcatraz prison facts

Alcatraz had various facilities for its inmates, from hot showers to small sinks. Alcatraz Island being the most expensive prison in the world is why there are so many facilities for prisoners to use. Its expensive status could be attributed to the fact that it housed such a vast number of prisoners and the size of a cell in the B and C blocks was around 5ft x 9ft (1.53m x 2.74 m). One inmate that became synonymous with Alcatraz was Al Capone who spent years on the island.

The B and C block had a total 336 cells, the cells in B and C blocks are small, but they at least have a room with a small cot and bathroom. If the men stretched their arms, they could easily touch either side of each room, while the D block cells have more space. Living areas in D block are big, but not as well liked because of the added space to every room.

Prisoners who were incarcerated on D block of Alcatraz Island had to be confined in their cells for the whole day. They were allowed to visit the outdoor recreation area only once a week. Alcatraz Island was also precious and was known around the world due to being a famous prison.

9 This Prison Has Witnessed Some Of The Craziest Escape Failure, Murders & Casualities

Eight people were murdered on Alcatraz by other inmates. Five men execute suicide after being imprisoned for an extended period of time, and fifteen died due to natural causes. The Island of Alcatraz also had its own morgue, but no autopsies were carried out there. The deceased prisoners were taken back to the natural ground and liberated to the San Francisco County Coroner.

10 Highest Number Of Prisoners In Alcatraz Is 302

The highest recorded number of inmates at Alcatraz was 302, and the lowest recorded number was 222. While the median number of prisoners during the 29 years of duty was 260. Alcatraz had approximately 1545 men in their prison and the National Park Service indicated that their number was about 1576. More than 30 prisoners were transferred back with different numbers to Alcatraz.

11 How Many People Escaped?

A study on the number of prisoners who attempted to escape from Alcatraz and The NPS records showed that 36 inmates were involved. Two prisoners well-turned finished it off the island but were caught soon after. Seven people were killed during their attempt to escape. Two prisoners drowned more easily and five are envisaged to have drowned. Frank Morris and the Anglin Brothers are most famous for escaping to land but all three drowned while trying.

12 Softball Was A Popular Pastime

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Although Alcatraz wasn’t a country club, there was still an opportunity for inmates to pursue physical activity as the most famous game on Alcatraz was softball. The diamond in the recreation area provided a venue for these games. Organized teams had been created to play the game with shorter innings and instead emphasized balls going over the barrier out as an out, rather than a home run. However not every game went smoothly. Though, one May 20, 1956 game, a heated argument between teams escalated with knives used before guards could intervene.

13 Alcatraz Inmates Were Forced To Build Their Own Prison

The U.S. army transformed a castle built on the waterfront into disciplinary barracks, leaving only the basement foundation intact after it ended their need for armed oversight. The building dated back to 1909 to 1911 and during this time, prisoners were used as slave labor building a new structure that would cover a disciplinary barracks for the West Coast.

When the military lost ownership of Alcatraz in 1933, the island started to be called hell for the prisoners. It was handed over to the Department of Justice. Alphonse Capone and Machine Gun George Kelly were some of the most notorious people kept on the island during this time period.

14 Regardless of Prison Blocks, Few Special Criminals Are Kept In Dungeons?

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In the 19th century, a cell-house was built on top of the fortress in order to guard the bay. Below A-Block, there was a set of cells dubbed as Spanish Dungeons, which was primarily used during military prison periods. It has been alleged that in the late 1930’s wardens used dungeon cells as a way to hold inmates who were difficult to manage, especially those in A-block. Many correctional officers have said they had heard inmates sometimes shifted and handcuffed to bars in the dungeon cells for a few days. D-block became a lock-down unit following these transformations.

15 Alcatraz Is Now One of San Francisco’s Most Popular Tourist Attractions

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Alcatraz Island became a part of the U.S. National Park system in 1972 and it’s now one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions. If you want to see the island, you can purchase advance tickets and make reservations on a ferry ride across San Francisco Bay. When you reach Alcatraz, an Audio tour will take you inside, explaining tales like those of Al Capone. Alcatraz Island welcomes approximately 1.5 million visitors every year.