What did Al Capone do to pass the time at Alcatraz?
Answer: Played Banjo in the Inmate Band
Al Capone was originally sent to Atlanta’s Penitentiary in 1932 when he was thirty-three years old. There he was diagnosed with venereal diseases and suffering greatly from withdrawal symptoms related to his cocaine addiction. As a result, he was seen as a weak prison personality, incapable of protecting himself from other inmates. In turn, an ex-Capone gang affiliate, Red Rudinksky, acted in Al’s defense, which fueled suspicion that he was receiving special treatment.
While no evidence ever emerged, it led to Capone being transferred to Alcatraz in the late summer of 1934. Off the coast of San Francisco, Capone’s conditions deteriorated, leading him to tell his warden, “It looks like Alcatraz has got me licked”. Mentally and physically broken, Capone’s lack of will to cause mischief led to better cooperation with the prison management. Ultimately the guards allowed Capone to play in the prison’s band, the Rock Islanders, which performed on Sunday’s for other inmates.