Will State Close our Very Own Version of Alcatraz?


The last prison in America located on a remote island is on the chopping block.

The state senate’s budget has plans to move out of the McNeil Island state prison, a 1,300 population lockup located in the pastoral south Puget Sound, the Tacoma News Tribune reports.

The territorial prison there got its first prisoners — two men who’d sold booze to Native Americans and one who’d robbed a fort store — in 1875, according to HistoryLink. When I visited the place last spring, the man who provided escort for me on the ferry ride told me an interesting fact. It wasn’t built for Alcatraz-like security reasons (i.e. its icy cold water surroundings) but rather because that’s just the way everyone commuted back then.

This prison’s older than the state itself, also giving it the unique distinction of being the only prison that started as a territorial facility, which then became a federal pen in 1890, and then a state prison in 1981. It was supposed to be temporary to run it to allieve overcrowding, but now almost 28 years later, it’s still going.

It’s expensive, as you might imagine, to haul inmates — and all the things that go to incarcerate them — on a ferry. That’s the likely reason for its possible closure.

We’ll see if Olympia votes to close it. If they do, perhaps the state could open it up to tourists — just like Alcatraz — and house a museum there.

Photo by http://www.communitywatch.org/

2 thoughts on “Will State Close our Very Own Version of Alcatraz?

  1. I can’t imagine the cost of building a new maximum security prison.

    I would also think the cost of transporting people and goods from the main sources (population centers) to a remote location would outweigh the expense of running them to McNeil Island, so close to central Puget Sound. NIMBYs in the Puget Sound area certainly aren’t going to allow such a grim facility to go in their area.

  2. I expect this is just a tactic to con voters into approving tax increases. Making cuts in essentials and keeping the state bueracracies(sp) and pet projects intact.

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