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page 1 THE CREATION OF aLCATRAZ Between the years 1934 and 1963 one of the most infamous prisons in history was operated Alcatraz Island Federal Penitentiary earned a reputation for being one of the most feared prisons in the world Its maximum security escape-proof environment was built to house the most villainous criminals of its time For 29 years under four wardens Alcatraz Penitentiary succeeded as being a place of isolation and reformation for a total of 1567 inmates During the 1930s a crime wave crashed through American towns and cities The primary cause for the eruption and eventual spread of criminal activity during this period known as the Gangster Era was the legal prohibition of intoxicating drinks Gangs such as the Toughy Gang were involved in robberies dealing with post offices and mail-delivery vehicles around the country Other well-known offenders included Al Capone machine gun kelly albert bates harvey baily and john dillinger all who ended up in alcatraz except for dillinger who was killed by the police It was clear that the local law enforcement agencies were unable to combat the threat these men posed to the community Even when they were captured and incarcerated it was not uncommon for them to escape and continue their dealings in a new city or state The increased element of criminal activity in American cities made it clear that America needed a place to isolate its most dangerous public enemies The government recognized the benefits that such an institution would provide If this group of men known as the toughest two percent were isolated from society and even from other prisoners in the state institutions a great burden would be lifted from the federal system The attorney general at the time homer s cummings consulted president Franklin Roosevelt about the concept of building a prison for the sole purpose of reforming and isolating page 2 dangerous criminals from the general
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