How It Works

Did anyone escape from ‘The Rock’?

Over its three decades of operation, 36 prisoners made 14 escape attempts from Alcatraz, of which only five got away and all of these were presumed drowned. One of the better-known attempts was the 1946 ‘Blastout’, where six inmates overpowered a guard, broke into the gun gallery and seized control of the cellhouse, from which they discovered they couldn’t escape. A siege ensued that lasted for two days and culminated in a gun battle with the guards, aided by the US marines, who ultimately dropped grenades into the cellhouse to recapture it.

But perhaps the most famous attempt was depicted by the Clint Eastwood film Escape From Alcatraz. It was notable for its ingenuity. In 1962 Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin used crudely fashioned tools to bore their way into the utility cavity behind their cells. They covered the holes with paintings, built rafts out of raincoats and modelled dummy heads with scraps of soap to avert suspicion until the morning, giving them time to make their getaway. They were never found and, though presumed dead, they are still wanted by the FBI.