Alcatraz Island: A Brief History

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With the new prison, the U.S. Army ran a rather mild institution with minimum security. “Prisoners spent their days working and learning…Many prisoners worked as gardeners while a select few were employed as babysitters for the children of prison officers (Mahaney, Erin. History and Facts about Alcatraz. About.com). Closing The Great Depression of the 1930s resulted in the already pricey expenses to run the army barracks to almost double. The current prisoners were departed to other prisons in Kansas and New Jersey. In 1933, the Army deserted the prison. Alcatraz would continue as a prison for more than 100 years, but just under a different control… Federal Penitentiary Establishing Alcatraz was obtained by the federal bureau of prisons in 1934; the bureau decided to open a “maximum security-minimum privilege prison [for housing America’s most rebellious and uncontrollable inmates- not necessarily those who committed the rather most reprehensible/egregious crimes]…to show the law-abiding public that the Federal Government was serious about stopping the rampant crime of the…1930s” (Alcatraz Origins 2). The location of the island was surely an ideal one, for it was an extreme factor in the maximum security of Alcatraz prison – the island was surrounded by freezing waters and isolated miles from any other land. As the federal penitentiary was established, a strict daily routine was arranged for the convicts that would soon start to arrive at the prison. The continuing daily cycle arranged for the Alcatraz inmates was designed to get them to follow prison rule. “Once prison officials felt an inmate would no longer pose a threat” (Alcatraz Origins 3), and could not only follow prison rules but would be able to act civi... ... middle of paper ... ...pport the Occupation. As time went on, the Native American leadership couldn’t control all of the people that were on the island. Damage started to occur on the island, including several forms of vandalism such as graffiti and a fire that destroyed the Alcatraz lighthouse, the old Warden’s home, and the correctional officer social club. Most of the Native Americans left the Island. On June 1971 Federal Marshalls removed what was left of the once large group. In 1972 Alcatraz Island became part of the National Park Service Unit. Some repairs were made before the island opened to the public in fall of 1973, and some of the damages were kept, being mostly the vandalism, to show tourists that there were once people other than prisoners inhabiting the island. Alcatraz Island is a “prominent tourist magnet,”(about.com) and receives about one million visitors per year.

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