For 29 years, Alcatraz — the notorious prison off the coast of San Francisco — housed some of the nation’s worst criminals: Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, Birdman Robert Stroud.
Today, 50 years after it closed, it’s a museum. And earlier this year, the National Park Service gave Bill Baker, a former inmate, special permission to stay the night in his old cell. He was 24 when he was transferred to The Rock. Today, he’s 80.
Baker, who was born in Kentucky during the Great Depression, has spent a lot of his life in and out of federal prison. Almost always for the same thing — cashing fraudulent checks.
By 1957, he was already an accomplished thief serving time in Leavenworth prison. He was never a violent criminal, but he had a penchant for escaping. So the federal Bureau of Prisons transferred him to Alcatraz to finish the last three years of his sentence.
50 years later, Baker took his first trip back to the island prison since he left it. Read more about his experience back at the Rock here