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From lawbrain.com

Getting it's name from the "island of the pelicans" (Isla de los Alcatraces), Alcatraz, in San Francisco Bay, has been many things - Civil War fortress, federal prison, bird sanctuary, first lighthouse on the West Coast, and the birthplace of the American Indian Red Power movement.

The island became a federal prison in August 1934. During the 29 years it was in use, it held criminals including Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), George "Machine Gun" Kelly, James "Whitey" Bulger, and Alvin Karpis (who served more time at Alcatraz than any other inmate). It also provided housing for the Bureau of Prison staff and their families.

No prisoner was ever sentenced directly to Alcatraz. They were moved there from other prisons.

By order of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the penitentiary was closed on March 21, 1963. In 1972, Alcatraz became a National Recreation Area and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

On November 20, 1969, a group of Native Americans occupied the island, and proposed an education center, ecology center and cultural center. The occupation lasted 19 months.

Today, Alcatraz is a tourist attraction, which visitors reach by boat.

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