Alcatraz, also known as the Rock, was a U.S. federal prison in operation from 1934 to 1963. Alcatraz gained worldwide fascination in part because the Federal Bureau of Prisons housed the nation’s most notorious convicts on an island that sat in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Although easily visible, no one was allowed to visit. This denial of access produced rampant speculation about what was going on in a prison that critics began to call America’s version of the infamous Devil’s Island Prison Colony in French Guiana. Despite no personal contact with inmates or staff (who were required to live on the island), hundreds of stories were generated about escape attempts and the lives of notorious prisoners such as Al Capone, “Machine Gun” Kelly, ...

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