Alcatraz In western California, in San Fransisco Bay, Alcatraz rises 130 feet above the surface of the bay and is about 1755 feet long. The United States Department of Justice used the island as a Military Prison from 1868 until 1933, when it became a federal prison for dangerous prisoners. The prison was closed in 1963. In 1972 Alcatraz became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The island has many natural features such as gardens, tide pools, and bird colonies. This year marks the 30 th Anniversary of the occupation of the Alcatraz Island by Indians of all tribes.
The name Alcatraz derived from the spanish word Alcatraces. It was given to the island by a spanish explorer named Juan Manuel de Ayala. The name Alcatraz means pelican or strange bird. Well known prisoners that stayed in Alcatraz were Al Capone, George Machine-Gun Kelly, Alvin Karp is, and Arthur Doc Barker. At Alcatraz, a prisoner had 4 rights: food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Everything else was a privilege and had to be earned.
Privileges that had to be earned were: working, corresponding with and having visits from family members, access to the prison library, and recreational activities. Over the 29 years that the federal prison operated, 36 men, including 2 who tried to escape twice, were involved in 14 separate escape attempts. 23 were caught, 6 were shot and killed, and 2 drowned. No one ever succeeded in escaping from Alcatraz. Although, to this day, there are 5 prisoners listed as missing and presumed dead. The average population for the prison was between 260 and 275 prisoners.
The prison never once reached its maximum capacity of 336. Some prisoners considered Alcatraz better than other Federal Prisons. After the prison closed, it was basically abandoned. Many ideas were brought up for the island. From 1909 through 1911, Alcatraz was used as a Disciplinary Barracks for the U. S.
Army. It was this prison building that was later became known as The Rock. The U. S. Army used the island for more than 80 years, from 1850-1933. Alcatraz wasn t the Americas Devils Island, as it was portrayed in books and movies..