SAN FRANCISCO -- The last inmates of Alcatraz Federal Prison left the crumbling "Rock" in San Francisco Bay today and headed for other institutions.
The government is abandoning the maximum security prison because it would cost $5 million to repair the deteriorating buildings which contributed to recent escape attempts.
The last inmate to leave the 29-year-old island prison was Frank C. Weatherman, age 29, a gun smuggler who was transferred here Dec. 14, 1962, for attempting twice to break out of the Anchorage jail.
Asked by a reporter how it felt to be the last man off "The Rock" the blond, boyish-looking convict smiled thinly and said:
"Good. Good for me. Good for everyone. Alcatraz never was no good."
Weatherman was the last of 27 inmates, handcuffed and wearing leg and waist chains, who filed aboard the Alcatraz prison boat "Warden Blackwell" for the 10-minute trip on San Francisco Bay to Fort Mason Army dock. There a chartered bus transported them to an undisclosed airport where a U.S. Immigration Service airplane took them to their new institutions in Leavenworth, Kan.; McNeill Island, Wash.; Lewisburg, Pa.; or Atlanta, Ga.
A few moments after the 60-foot diesel boat left Alcatraz, prison Officer Gordon Gronzo formally closed the 100-foot Tower No. 1 on the east side of the island as he came down the steps carrying a rifle and wearing another slung over his shoulder along with a cartridge belt.
The government began transporting the 250 inmates of Alcatraz to new institutions last fall. The prison is scheduled to be officially turned over to the General Services Administration at the end of June and declared surplus.
Congressmen from California are currently exploring legislation to establish a commission that will determine the future of the island.