Did anyone ever escape Alcatraz

Yes actually. They were probably really smart

The Anglin brothers

"Main articles: Clarence Anglin and John Anglin

"Anglin brothers Alfred Clarence (born May 11, 1931) and John William (born May 2, 1930) were born in Donalsonville, Georgia, and worked as farmers and laborers. Together they started to rob banks in Georgia and were arrested in 1956. Both were given 15–20 year sentences and sent to Atlanta Penitentiary (where they first met Frank Morris and Allen West), Florida State Prison, and Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.

Clarence and John made several failed attempts to escape the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary and were consequently sent to Alcatraz.[5] John arrived on October 21, 1960, as Alcatraz inmate AZ1476, and Clarence on January 10, 1961, as inmate AZ1485. Clarence was known to be the smarter of the two brothers.

Frank Morris[edit]

Frank Morris

Main article: Frank Morris

Frank Lee Morris was born in Washington, D.C., on September 1, 1926, and spent most of his early years in foster homes. He was orphaned at age 11 and was convicted of his first crime at the age of 13, and by his late teens had been arrested for crimes ranging from possession ofnarcotics to armed robbery.

Morris had a long criminal history prior to serving time in Alcatraz. He was sent to the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary following one of his arrests, where he first met the Anglin brothers. Frank arrived at Alcatraz on January 3, 1960 on a sentence of 14 years,[6] where he became prisoner AZ1441.

Allen West[edit]

Main article: Allen West

Allen Clayton West was born on March 25, 1929.[7] He was sent to the Atlanta Penitentiary (where he first met Morris and the Anglin brothers) and Florida State Prison for hijacking as a car thief. He was sent to Alcatraz in 1957, charged with attempting escape, and became prisoner AZ1335.

West was the only one of the four conspirators who did not participate in the actual escape, as he had not gone through his hole before and only had left a little piece that he could simply punch through only to find out that there was a metal bar there. The others decided to leave him and took the life raft with them. With no means of leaving the island, West had no choice but to remain in his cell until the escape was discovered the next morning. After the escape was discovered he gave several interviews to the FBI and prison authorities, during which he provided full details of the escape plan, possibly as part of a plea bargaining strategy. West was never charged for trying to escape from Alcatraz.

West left Alcatraz on February 6, 1963, then was transferred to McNeil Island, Washington, and later Atlanta, Georgia.[7] After his release from federal prison on January 7, 1965, West was sent to serve prison sentences in Georgia and Florida.[7] He was released in 1967 but was later arrested in Florida on charges of grand larceny, robbery and attempted escape.[7] Receiving multiple sentences, including life imprisonment, West was sent to Florida state prison in January 1969.[7] On October 30, 1972, he fatally stabbed another prisoner in what may have been a racially-motivated incident.[7] In December 1978, suffering severe abdominal pains, West was sent to the Shands Teaching Hospital, where he died of acute peritonitis on December 21, 1978, at the age of 49.[7]


Dummy head found in Morris' cell

Chiselled cell air vent

The dug out vents in the utility corridor

By September 1961 Morris, West, and the Anglin brothers were planning an escape attempt, which they carried out on the night of June 11, 1962.[3] They fabricated dummy heads from a mixture of soap, toilet paper and real hair, and left them in their beds to fool prison officers making night-time inspections.[8] They escaped from their cells by crawling through holes in the cell walls which they had dug with spoons over the course of a year. This put them into an unused service corridor. West could not make it out of his cell and was left behind.[9]

From the service corridor they climbed a ventilation shaft to reach the roof. Security guards brushed off the loud sound of the shaft smashing through the roof as nothing serious. Since nothing more was heard, the issue was left unpursued. The trio then climbed down from the rooftop, scaled the prison's fence and assembled a raft from the prison's standard-issue raincoats and contact cement. They pumped up the raft on the northeastern coast of the island. At around 10 p.m. they climbed aboard, shoved off, and started paddling.[3][9]


The escape was not discovered until the following morning, due to the successful dummy-head ruse.[10] Police found no trace of the men on Alcatraz or Angel Island, but did identify remnants of the raft, paddles, and a bag containing the Anglins' personal effects washed up on an Angel Island beach.[9]

FBI investigators concluded that, while it was theoretically possible for one or more of the inmates to have reached Angel Island, the cold water temperature and direction of the ocean's tides made it unlikely.[3] Interviews with West revealed that the men planned to steal clothes and a car once they reached land, but no car or clothing thefts were reported in the area following the escape.[3][9] The FBI closed its case on December 31, 1979, after a 17-year investigation. Their official finding was that the prisoners drowned in the cold waters of the bay while trying to reach the mainland.[3]

The U.S. Marshals Service investigation remains open, however. As Deputy U.S. Marshal Michael Dyke told NPR in 2009, "There's an active warrant, and the Marshals Service doesn't give up looking for people." He said that he still receives leads on a regular basis.[11]

A 2003 MythBusters episode[12] on the Discovery Channel tested the feasibility of an escape from the island on a raincoat raft, and determined that it was "plausible", though the team concluded that the inmates could not have reached Angel Island with the tides, but that they instead went for the Marin Headlands.[9] A 2011 program on the National Geographic Channel reported that investigators found footprints on Angel Island leading away from the raft, and had also identified a blue Chevrolet that had been stolen that night, contrary to the FBI report.[6]

In 2011 an 89-year-old man named Bud Morris, who said he was a cousin of Frank Morris, claimed that on "eight or nine" occasions prior to the escape he delivered envelopes of money to Alcatraz guards, presumably as bribes. Morris further claimed to have met his cousin face to face in a San Diego park shortly after the escape. Morris's daughter, who was "eight or nine" years old at the time, said she was present at the meeting with "Dad's friend, Frank", but "had no idea [about the escape]".[13]

In 2012, the 50th anniversary of the escape, the Anglins' two sisters and two of their nephews made public their belief that Clarence and John—who would be well into their eighties—were still alive. Marie Anglin Winder claimed that in 1962 she received a phone call from San Francisco after the escape; the caller said, "This is John Anglin." The family also produced a Christmas card, purportedly received in the family mailbox in 1962, saying, "To Mother, from John. Merry Christmas."[14] Michael Dyke, the Deputy US Marshal, conceded that there is a "possibility that they survived"—but noted that a Norwegian freighter reported seeing a body floating in the ocean 15 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, about one month after the escape. "He had on prison clothes—a navy pea coat and a light pair of trousers—similar to what prisoners wore. There were no other missing people during that time period."[15]

In 2014 researchers at Delft University, using a computer model, concluded that if the men set off approximately at midnight, when the currents might have worked in their favor, they could have made landfall; but if they left in the hours either side, the currents would have been too strong to overcome and they very likely died.[16]

In popular culture[edit]

Main articles: Escape from Alcatraz (book) and Escape from Alcatraz (film)

In 1963, J. Campbell Bruce published his book Escape from Alcatraz about escapes from Alcatraz Island, including that of Morris and the Anglin brothers.[17]

The 1979 film Escape from Alcatraz stars Clint Eastwood, Fred Ward, and Jack Thibeau as Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin, respectively. Allen West was played by Larry Hankin; his character's name was changed to Charley Butts. The film strongly implied that the men made it to the mainland.[18"( Who were the Anglin Brothers?)"

Green- The Anglin Brothers were smart people. They came up with a flawless plan to easily escape. It took months of planning and studying the prison. They came up with a plan that went like this- they used knives from the kitchen to slowly dig holes through the wall. They made fake heads out of real human hair and toilet paper. Te heads would fool the night guards as the Anglin brothers were escaping. When they got out of their cell, they would climb to the top of the prison. On the roof, they would slide down a pole and cut a hole through the fences. Once they got to the edge where the water was, they used raincoats and slowly floated to land. After they got to land. They ran off never to be seen again.


It's very surprising that 2 men actually escape Alcatraz. It was escape-proof, yet two men still managed to escape it without conflict with the guards. They were two very smart men and they knew exactly what to do to escape Alcatraz

These are some really weird facts about Alcatraz

  • "Cells were smaller than a closet: In B & C blocks, the cells were 5 feet by 9 feet, with a toilet and small sink (cold running only). Today's walk-in closets are about 6 feet by 6 feet, or bigger.
  • Alcatraz has great gardens: When Alcatraz was an active prison, its officers and their families planted gardens. The hardy plants they chose survived decades of neglect until 2003, when Gardens of Alcatraz partnered with the National Park Service to restore and maintain them. They offer guided tours of the gardens a few days a week, taking visitors to Officers’ Row and the Rose Terrace, which are off limits to other visitors. Get the current schedule.
  • Some of its earliest prisoners were protesters: In 1895, nineteen Hopi Indians were imprisoned on Alcatraz because they refused to farm the way the government told them to, and were against their children's forced education in government boarding schools..Read more about it here.
  • Alcatraz is a birdwatcher's bonanza: In other places, you'd have to peer at nesting seabirds with binoculars, but on Alcatraz, it's easy to get much closer. Among the species you'll see are cormorants, orange-footed pigeon guillemots, snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons - and Western Gulls, the island's most numerous bird species. More info is here.

  • It wasn't always a prison: It was originally a fort, declared a military reservation in 1850 by President Millard Fillmore. In 1859 (two years before the Civil War began), troops moved in to defend the Bay Area. In 1907, Alcatraz became an official U.S. military prison and remained one until 1933, when the facility transferred to the Bureau of Prisons.
  • Families lived on Alcatraz during its prison years: The guards and officers lived on the island with their spouses and children. There's even an Alumni Association for folks who grew up there.
  • Prisoners actually did escape from Alcatraz - but when it was a military post, not during its tenure as a federal prison. According to the National Park Service history of Alcatraz, imprisoned soldiers on work assignments at mainland army posts sometimes just walked away. Site SF Genealogy says another enterprising inmate simply forged a transportation permit, got on a boat and left.
  • It Was Never Full: The average number of prisoners was 260, but as few as 222 and as many as 320.
  • Alcatraz Didn’t have a “Death Row” nor any facilities for executing the death penalty, but a few prisoners did die while imprisoned there. Some were murdered by other inmates, a few committed suicide and others died of natural causes.
  • Alcatraz might be haunted: Check out this resource which details some of the reported paranormal occurrences, including one that suggest Al Capone might be among its "haunts."
  • It has a lighthouse: In fact, it was the first West Coast lighthouse, activated in 1854. It helped guide ships in the San Francisco Bay until the early 1900s, when a new building on the island blocked it from the view of arriving ships. More about Alcatraz lighthouse."

There were a total of 12 facts that were pretty interesting. Some of them very interesting and others least interesting.


Wow, there is a lot to learn about Alcatraz. There is so much history about this place. I would like to know even more about Alcatraz because it really just interests me. Even though it was just a prison, it was a place of history.


"June 1962 Alcatraz Escape." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 May 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/June_1962_Alcatraz_escape>.

Malloy, Betsy. "12 Alcatraz Facts That May Surprise You." N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2015. <http://gocalifornia.about.com/od/casfmenu/a/Alcatraz-Facts.htm>.