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   Karpis as a Teenager
Karpis in Alcatraz

Alvin Karpis received a life sentence on a kidnapping charge to be served in the mysterious, super prison in San Francisco Bay - Alcatraz.

Alvin Karpis spent more time in Alcatraz, (26 years), than any other prisoner . He arrived within a few months of its opening and stayed until a few months before it closed, when he was transferred to another federal prison, McNeil Island, in the fall of 1962.

In the early years at Alcatraz, his cell mates were criminals such as Al Capone, Doc Barker and Machine-Gun Kelly. At McNeil Island, he spent another seven years (total of 33 years in prison), where a young inmate named Charles Manson persuaded the old gangster to teach him how to play guitar.

Alvin Karpis described his prison career in the book,
 On the Rock,
originally published in 1980; recently re-published in paperback and available from this web page.

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Last Updated April, 2007.