It was 83 years ago today – August 11, 1934. The first civilian prisoners arrived at the federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.
The United States Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz was acquired by the United States Department of Justice on October 22, 1933, and the island became a Federal Bureau of Prisons federal prison in August of 1934. Alcatraz was designed to hold prisoners who continuously caused trouble at other federal prisons. At 9:40 am on August 11, 1934, the first batch of 137 prisoners arrived by railroad from the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. Most were notorious bank robbers and murderers.
During the 29 years the prison was in use, the jail had some of the most notorious criminals in American history, such as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Bumpy Johnson, and Alvin
“Creepy” Karpis (who served longer than any other Alcatraz inmate). It also provided housing for the Bureau of Prisons staff and their families.
I can’t imagine living a life behind bars. Yet, millions of people do just that – not behind the bars of a federal prison, but the bars of their own making. Fortunately, we don’t have to live in the prison of our guilt or sin. We have been paroled. Jesus says, “Go and sin no more.”