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List Rules Only notable prisoners at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary

List of Famous Inmates at Alcatraz ranked by fame and notoriety. Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is a prison located on Alcatraz Island off the coast of San Francisco. Alcatraz operated from 1934 through 1963 and during that time they had several famous prisoners. Alcatraz had 36 inmates make escape attempts, none of which were successful.

Who is the most famous inmate at Alcatraz? Notorious gangster Al Capone tops our list. Capone spent four and a half years at Alcatraz and he continued to run his illegal operations behind bars by buying off the prison guards. Mafia man Mickey Cohen also spent time at Alcatraz and became partially paralyzed by another inmate who beat him with a pipe.

Frank Lee Morris was an Alcatraz inmate who attempted to escape in 1962. He escaped along with brothers John and Clarence Anglin and was never seen again. Authorities presume that Morris died in the attempt. Another famous Alcatraz inmate Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, the American mob boss and bookmaker, claims that he arranged for a boat to pick up the escapees, but authorities dismissed his comments as an attempt to receive a plea deal.

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Al Capone is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Inmates at Alcatraz
Photo:  uploaded by Alfred E. Neuman

Probably the most famous Alcatraz inmate, Capone was one of the most ruthless gang bosses of the early 20th century who was finally arrested on charges of tax evasion. He was moved to Alcatraz in 1934, but by that time syphilis was eroding his brain at an alarming rate.  see more on Al Capone
Mickey Cohen is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Inmates at Alcatraz
Photo: Freebase/GNU Free Documentation License

After working for various crime lords across the country, Mickey Cohen returned to his home in California where he helped set up various gambling operations and became known as one of the most men on the sunset strip. In 1961 Cohen was convicted of tax evasion for the second time and he sent to Alcatraz where he became the only inmate to ever be bailed out of The Rock.  see more on Mickey Cohen
Frank Morris is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Inmates at Alcatraz
Photo: Freebase/Public domain

Frank Morris was a life long criminal who was one of the only men to escape from Alcatraz. Along with his co-conspirators, he constructed fake heads, and dug a tunnel to the outside where they escaped using a rudimentary life raft. To this day no one knows his whereabouts see more on Frank Morris
Clarence Carnes is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Inmates at Alcatraz
Photo: Freebase/Fair use

Clarence Carnes

Known as The Chocktaw Kid, Carnes was the youngest inmate sentenced to Alcatraz. In 1945, he and five other inmates participated in a failed attempt to escape from Alcatraz which turned into the bloody "Battle of Alcatraz" where three inmates and two prison officers died. After the attempt he was tried for murder along with the two other survivors and found guilty for participating in the plot.  see more on Clarence Carnes
Joseph Paul Cretzer is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Inmates at Alcatraz
Photo: Freebase/Public domain

Joseph Paul Cretzer

Cretzer was a bank robber who tried to escape from Alcatraz on three separate occasions. His final attempt was during the Battle of Alcatraz where, when he found himself trapped in a corridor with a group of guards and was either slain in the crossfire or committed suicide see more on Joseph Paul Cretzer
Sam Shockley is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Inmates at Alcatraz
Photo: Freebase/Public domain

Shockley was one of the Alcatraz inmates who took part in the Battle of Alcatraz in 1946. The multi inmate escape attempt failed due to the jamming of the recreation yard door and turned into an armed confrontation which lasted two days. Shockley was found guilty at his subsequent trial and executed in the San Quentin gas chamber in 1948. see more on Sam Shockley
Joseph Bowers is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Inmates at Alcatraz
Photo:  uploaded by Alfred E. Neuman

Joseph Bowers

Joseph Bowers was the first person to attempt an escape from Alcatraz. In 1936, Henry Larry claimed to have watched Bowers, who was feeding seagulls, stack some empty barrels and climb up next to the fence so he could retrieve a bit of food which had fallen on the barbed wire. He stood there feeding the birds for several minutes until a tower guard turned, saw him atop the fence, and fired on the convict. Bowers fell seventy feet to his death on the rocks below.  see more on Joseph Bowers
Herbert Allen Farmer is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Inmates at Alcatraz
Photo:  uploaded by Alfred E. Neuman

Herbert Allen Farmer

Herbert Farmer, or "Deafy" to his friends, was involved in the plan which set into motion the Kansas City Massacre, an attempt to rescue Frank Nash and Pretty Boy Floyd from Federal prosecution that ended in the bloody deaths of five men. Deafy was sentenced to two years on Alcatraz island for conspiracy. see more on Herbert Allen Farmer