The Escape from Alcatraz
How Frank Morris, John and Clarence Anglin carried out one of the most intricate escapes ever seen and only potentially successful escape off The Rock.
The name Alcatraz has a way of instilling fear, even for those who know nothing about it. It earned that reputation, in fact it was their goal. And it always was, from the very moment that the San Francisco Bay island was commissioned to be a military prison. It had actually been in use as a fort, which we’d purchased from Mexico after the Mexican-American War. Fort Alcatraz was complete by 1858 and held about 200 soldiers. All of whom waited by their 105 cannons day in and day out but no threat ever emerged. The US Army decided that it should stay a site of defense but in order to make some use of the space, they began imprisoning US soldiers guilty of war crimes and soon Civil War prisoners of war. And with the Civil War, rapid changes were made in artillery and combat, and Fort Alcatraz was deemed obsolete.
On October 12, 1933, the Military Prison of Alcatraz was acquired by the US Department of Justice, where they turned it to a maximum security federal prison. During the 29 years it was in use, the jail held some of the most notorious criminals in American history, such as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud, and Alvin Karpis. To this day, they claim that in those 29 years of operation, no prisoner escaped successfully. But the truth is they don’t know that for sure. Because on June 11th, 1962, Frank Morris, John and Clarence Anglin carried out one of the most intricate escapes ever seen, and to this day they’ve never been found.
In the 1930s, Alcatraz was already a forbidding place, surrounded by the cold, choppy waters of the Pacific Ocean. Once it was redesigned from a fort into a prison, it housed even tougher iron bars, a series of strategically placed guard towers, and strict rules, including a dozen checks a day of each and every prisoner. Escape seemed near impossible to anyone who found themselves locked away on the island. But the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was never a criminals first landing place. The whole idea that they were founded on is that it will be a place to hold the current prisoners who caused too much trouble at other federal prisons. This was not…