Documentary examining the history of Alcatraz, one of the most notorious prisons in the world. In the 1930, the United States was in the grip of an unprecedented crime wave; depression, prohibition, violence, lawlessness and the glorification of criminals by the press sent crime figures soaring. In response, the authorities created the ultimate penitentiary where the discipline would be severe enough to "break men's spririts." Thus Alcatraz was born on an island in San Francisco Bay and with it a myth perpetuated by Hollywood and the public's fascination with "the Rock." It had a reputation as a brutal and impenetrable fortress, housing the likes of Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. Rehabilitation was not part of its function; it was built for maximum security and minimum privelege.