Washington closing McNeil Island prison

March 1, 2011 at 5:34 PM
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OLYMPIA, Wash., March 1 (UPI) -- The prison on McNeil Island in Puget Sound is closing down, ending a 135-year history that began when Washington was still a territory.

The state is mothballing what is formally known as the McNeil Island Corrections Complex in an effort to cut costs, The Seattle Times reported Monday. The prison is scheduled to close April 1, and most inmates have already been transferred.

The prison opened in 1875, later became a federal prison, which closed in the 1970s, and reopened as a state prison in 1981. Since Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay was closed and a bridge built to Rikers Island in New York, McNeil Island remains the last prison in the country not accessible by road.

During its time as a federal prison, McNeil Island was home to Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, a member of the notorious Barker gang, and a young Charles Manson, who did time there in the 1950s for trying to forge a U.S. Treasury check.

State officials say closing McNeil Island, located at the southern end of Puget Sound, will save $8.6 million a year because island prisons are expensive to operate.

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