August 11 - 1934 - The Opening of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was designed to be a particular kind of prison when the Federal Bureau of Prisons created it in 1933. A reformulated military prison, Alcatraz was a large cement cell block situated on a small rocky island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. The prison was supposed to be escape proof, because no one would survive entering the waters of the Bay. So Alcatraz was opened for the toughest prisoners in the Federal system. No prisoners were sentenced to Alcatraz directly by any judge, but had to be placed there after becoming problematic prisoners at other Federal Prisons. In its time, Alcatraz would house notorious criminals Al Capone, Creepy Karpis, Robert Stroud, Mickey Cohen, and Bumpy Johnson, among many others. There were multiple escape attempts, but no one successfully survived. More importantly, Alcatraz was a new approach to prisons in America, a focus on keeping the most hardened criminals inside of a contained area with no thought for rehabilitation. Alcatraz itself would last less than three decades, but the idea behind it would continue on and on.

William Floyd