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On This Day… The Closure Of Alcatraz Prison

Written by: George Chittenden : 09 Jul 2019

It was on this day, 21st March, back in 1963 when Alcatraz Prison closed after twenty-nine years of operation. Situated on an island off San Francisco, Alcatraz was thought to be the perfect location for a prison, however ironically that’s the exact reason it was forced to close. The daily operational costs were nearly three times more expensive than any other Federal prison.

Alcatraz Prison

Alcatraz Prison

The extra-expense was caused by the physical isolation of the island. A good example of this is the fact that the island had no source of fresh water, so nearly one million gallons had to be delivered to the island every week. On top of that the prison required an estimated $3-5 million for restoration and maintenance work to keep it open. Interestingly, the prison never reached its capacity of 336 prisoners, and had an average population of between 260-275 prisoners.

Prisoners at Alcatraz were put there because they were considered particularly violent and dangerous or were considered escape risks. Many famous faces spent time there over the years, including Al Capone and George "Machine-Gun" Kelly.

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