ALCATRAZ-THE HOME OF THE FAMOUS CRIMINALS
|Once the temporary home of famous criminals like Al “Scarface” Capone,|
Born, Alphonse Gabriel Capone on January 17, 1899 and died on January 25, 1947)he was popularly known as Al "Scarface" Capone,an infamous Italian-American gangster in the 1920s and 1930s'. A Neapolitan born in New York City to Gabriele and Teresina Capone, he began his career in Brooklyn before moving to Chicago and becoming Chicago's most notorious crime figure. By the end of the 1920s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had placed Capone on its "Most Wanted" list. Capone's downfall occurred in 1931 when he was indicted and convicted by the federal government for income tax evasion. Remember the UNTOUCHABLES starring Sean Connery?
The public enemies of the Thirties were farmboys from the heartland, men reared in the ethic of doing it all for themselvesled by Arthur "Doc" Barker. They emulated Jesse James and his one-time Confederate irregulars, riding the plains in their steel steeds; striking against the rich; spitting lead into the hearts of interfering guards, meddlesome bystanders, and intrusive police with their machine guns; and then zipping across state lines to enjoy the spoils. Barker and his gang had kept the Feds guessing for years. They knew how to hit banks, leaving no one knowing who had done it. Sometimes others got the blame. Like many Depression-era bandits, they earned for themselves quiet support and admiration from an agrarian public which hated the banks. Farmers used to sharing their crop failures with those close to them found that loan officers would not starve and sacrifice for them. Lenders kept themselves fat by foreclosing on cultivators during bad years. If a villain knocked over a poorly guarded small-town depository, he might see a close-mouthed smile on a man who'd just lost everything on a mortgage. Exploiting this kind of gratitude and laying down careful plans had enabled the Barker-Karpis gang to confound federal and local law enforcement and work almost anonymously.
Robert Stroud — the “Birdman of Alcatraz,”
Stroud was born in Seattle, Washington, on January 28, 1890, to Elizabeth and Ben Stroud. He was convicted for killing an F. K. "Charlie" Von Dahmer who according to him raped and viciously beat his lover Kitty O'Brien, a 36-year old , a dance-hall entertainer and prostitute. According to the police, Van Dahmer was killed because he refused to pay Stroud for a session with Kitty. He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to twelve years in the federal penitentiary on Puget Sound's McNeil Island on August 23, 1909.
Stroud stabbed and killed a the guard and was sentenced to execution by hanging on May 27, 1916, and was ordered to await his death sentence in solitary confinement.
His mother appealed to President Wilson, who ordered a halt to the execution.
He earned his nickname the birdman when he started raising and caring for birds, which he sold to support his mother. Admiring the possibility to present Leavenworth as a progressive rehabilitation penitentiary, the new warden furnished Stroud with cages, chemicals, and stationeries to conduct his avian activities. Visitors were shown Stroud's aviary and many purchased his canaries. Over the years, he raised nearly 300 canaries in his cells and wrote two books, Diseases of Canaries and Stroud's Digest on the Diseases of Birds. He made several important contributions to avian pathology, most notably a cure for the hemorrhagic septicemia family of diseases. He gained respect and also some level of sympathy in the bird-loving field.
In 1933, however, Stroud took out an advertisement to publicise the fact that he had not received any royalties from the sales of Diseases of Canaries. In retaliation, the publisher complained to the warden, and as a result, proceedings began to transfer Stroud to Alcatraz, where he would not be permitted to keep his birds. Stroud, however, discovered a legal loophole, which would allow him to remain in Kansas if he were married there. He therefore married Della Jones in 1933, though he infuriated both prison officials, who would not allow him to correspond with his wife, and his mother, who cut off all contact with him for the rest of her life (she died in 1937). However, Stroud was able to keep his birds and his canary-selling business until after several years it was discovered that some of the equipment Stroud had requested for his lab was in fact being used to create alcohol with a home-made still.
Stroud was transferred to Alcatraz on December 19, 1942. While there, he wrote two manuscripts: Bobbye, an autobiography; and Looking Outward: A History of the U.S. Prison System from Colonial Times to the Formation of the Bureau of Prisons. The judge ruled that Stroud had the right to write and keep such manuscripts but upheld the warden’s decision of banning publication.
Robert Franklin Stroud died in Springfield on November 21, 1963 after 54 years of incarceration, 42 of those years in solitary confinement.
Alvin Karpis was a member of the notorious "Ma Barker Gang," also known as the "Barker-Karpis Gang," which terrorized the Midwest in the early and mid-1930s with bank robberies, kidnappings, and murders. Karpis was arrested by J. Edgar Hoover himself. Karpis served 26 years on Alcatraz -- more than any other inmate.
Alcatraz Island now harbors nesting birds in such numbers that the Park Service limits access to parts of the island during nesting season.
Many people are familiar with the Alcatraz Island Prison from movies made about it including Birdman of Alcatraz and Escape from Alcatraz. There is even an annual Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.
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