The Convicts of McNeil Island Penitentiary Part 2

This is part 2 of the very unusual McNeil Island mugshots from the 1890s-1906. As you’ve seen, McNeil Island Penitentiary tended to photograph men in pairs, wearing their striped prisoner clothing, and with their name and prison number scribbled on the back. But there were a few mugshots that did not fit this profile. Or…

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Sordid Histories of Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, Volume 2

Today’s sordid history from Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary is the tale of Adolph Fein, the one-time vice-president of the Hebrew chapter of St. Louis’ Jefferson Club, a local organization of young Democrats that wielded considerable power throughout the state of Missouri at the turn of the century. Fein was a well-known politician in St. Louis but as we will see,…

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Sordid Histories of Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, Volume 1

Leavenworth Penitentiary, the first federal penitentiary, was built in the late 1890s in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The first 400 inmates were processed in 1903, and is still operating as a medium-security prison today. The prison and its surrounding wall – which extends 35 feet above and below the ground – was officially completed in 1926. Inmates sometimes call…

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