November 13, 2012
Audience: Visitors of Historical Alcatraz Island
Purpose: To Inform
Robert Stroud “Birdman of Alcatraz”, Alvin “Creepy Karpis” Karpowicz, and Al “Scarface” Capone were only some of the notorious criminals to pass through Alcatraz Island. Surrounded by harsh currents and cold waters, Alcatraz Island was thought to be the ultimate place to keep criminals too criminal for landlocked prisons. In the early 1930s, renovations made Alcatraz a better, yet still crude, establishment that housed the worst of the worst criminals and isolated them from life on the mainland. Alcatraz Island (1934-1963), a harsh penitentiary off the coast of San Francisco, California, was home to some of America’s most notorious criminals, holds a fascinating escape attempts story. Alcatraz Island was officially opened as a federal penitentiary on July 1, 1934. With dimensions of 1675 feet long, 590 feet wide, and 135 feet tall, the government was happy to have found a place to keep murderers, robbers, and other criminals(Alcatraz, Part 1). However, it was not until October 11, 1934 that 137 male inmates were brought from other prisons unable to contain their behavior and placed in isolation on Alcatraz Island (Alcatraz, Part 1). The men took one look at Alcatraz and realized this was no place like home. Alvin Karpowicz described the island as an unkind, inhumane, and dreadful place (Alcatraz, Part 1). Out of the 137 inmates, 83 of the men had life sentences, some of which were double or triple life sentences (Alcatraz, Part 2). Alvin “Creepy Karpis” Karpowicz spent the longest of any inmate at Alcatraz, serving 33 years. In an interview with actor, Howard Duff, Karpowicz said he was adequately fed to keep him healthy, given clothes to wear, and no recreational hobbies whatsoever (Alcatraz, Part 2). However, he was given a bunk only after he spent several days in isolation or better known as “the Hole”. Spending time in “the...