Escape from Alcatraz: A 50th Criminal-Justice Anniversary


In one of the most daring prison escapes ever, fifty years ago, three men set out into the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay from Alcatraz federal prison in a raft made out of raincoats. As a newsreel put it, NPR recalls, “Three bank robbers serving long terms scratched their way through grills covering an air vent, climbed a drainage pipe and disappeared.”

The men — Frank Morris and two brothers, John and Clarence Anglin — were never seen again. It was a brilliant plan, carried out with meticulous care and patience, but with such an unsatisfying ending. Legend says that if the men are alive, they will return to Alcatraz on the 50th anniversary of their breakout. There’s little chance that’s going to happen. The men would be in their mid-80s if they survived but it is assumed that they drowned in the most-midnight tides.

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