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Alcatraz Prison Closes

After 29 years of operation, Alcatraz Prison closed its doors for good on March 21, 1963.

Alcatraz Island was originally used as a civil war fort and a military prison before being transformed into a federal prison in 1933. It was a maximum-security, minimum-privilege institution that only guaranteed its prisoners four basic rights: food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.

Alcatraz Prison quickly became notorious for being inescapable due to the pure isolation of the island and the chilly waters that surrounded it. The 12-acre island has a rocky landscape and was a 1.5 mile swim from San Francisco for any prisoners who dared to attempt an escape.

Some famous (or rather, infamous) prisoners who had the misfortune of being holed up at Alcatraz Prison were Al Capone, George “Machine-Gun” Kelly, Alvin Karpis, and Arthur “Doc” Barker.

The decision was made in 1963 to shut down the prison because of the sheer expense; Alcatraz cost three times more to operate than other federal prisons at the time because of its isolation from the outside world. In 1972, Alcatraz was added to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and opened to the public for tours. It currently brings in over 1 million visitors from all over the world each year.

Sources: History.com, bop.gov

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