Make 87 years dangerous inmates were locked up in Alcatraz

Alcatraz Jail in San Francisco Bay, California. photo VD: Alberto Barrera.

By Alberto Barrera

During 27 years old rocky island Alcatraz, in San Francisco Bay, California, it was a military jail. A 11 August 1934, does 87 years, They turned it into a “high security” federal prison in which they locked up 47 dangerous inmates and in 12 other days arrived 53, including the famous mob boss Al Capone. Make 49 years it is a very visited tourist site.

Alcatraz, had been designated in 1907 United States Army Pacific Branch Military Prison, but after almost three decades it was fortified and turned into a jail for civilian prisoners convicted of the worst crimes in American society and especially for those who were inclined to escape., reported media of the time.

“Although the total population of Uncle Sam's new fortress for incorrigibles will stretch into the hundreds, the 47 now 'available’ will be enough to give Attorney General Homer S. Cummings an idea of ​​the situation”, wrote the Chronicle upon arrival, reported in 2017 sfgate.com.

According to History.com the island, of only 8,9 hectares (12,7 apples), It was a refuge for birds that in 1775 It was explored by the Spanish Juan Manuel de Ayala and called it "Isla de los Alcatraces (Pelicans)”, which was sold to the United States in 1849 Y 10 years later it was converted into a military detachment, but in 1868 housed military criminals.

Then they included what they called "rebellious Indian explorers.", deserter soldiers fighting in the Philippines and Chinese who fought in 1899-1900 to armies of eight nations, Japan, United States and six Europeans during the "Boxer Rebellion",

That rebellion was an uprising of civilians and soldiers - known as “fists of justice”-, who created a secret society that became a symbol of society's discontent in the face of political and economic intervention by foreign powers in China.

In the background the old Alcatraz jail. photo VD. Alberto Barrera.

Morning 23 August 1934, being already federal prison, Al Capone and other criminals arrived by boat from Tiburon Island, across san francisco. But the move from Atlanta was secret, although three days before arrival the Chronicle discovered that Capone and the cargo of criminals were on a heavily guarded train with steel bars.

According to the San Francisco newspaper “Al Capone, that it was nerves of iron "of which he boasted" he complained when he saw the escape-proof walls of Alcatraz”. Historical accounts tell that in September of that year, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, "Luminary of organized crime" and in the decade of 1940 another famous prisoner was Richard Stroud nicknamed "the bird man", who later wrote a study on birds.

Many inmates tried to escape from prison island, llamada “The Rock”, but supposedly they were unsuccessful, although their bodies never appeared. "The story of the escape of 1962 of three of these men, Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin, inspired the movie of 1979 Escape from Alcatraz”, wrote the site history.com. John Paul Scott came swimming at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, but exhausted and hypothermic. He was found lying unconscious and in a state of shock, according to reports.

After 29 years the jail was closed in 1963 by then Attorney Robert F. Kennedy for what I consider high costs in its maintenance. Had housed more than 1,500 inmates.

A few months later in 1964 Sioux Indians and other tribes occupied the island claiming their territory according to a treaty of 1868, but they vacated it soon. In november 1969 It was also occupied longer by native Indians and sympathizers. They were evicted more than a year and a half later.

In 1972 Alcatraz was opened to the public as a tourist attraction and managed by the National Park Service. Each year more than 1,0 million tourists.