You've most likely heard of Al Capone, notorious gangster, resident of the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, and possible instigator of the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. You might even know that he served a 10 month sentence in Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia for carrying a pistol. But were you aware that when released from custody following his stay at Eastern, his first steps as a free man were in Montgomery County?
While helping a patron with a research request, we stumbled upon a headline about Capone. Our interests were peaked so we looked further into the report from the March 18th, 1930 issue of the Norristown Times Herald. According to the report, the official statement from the warden as to why the release was carried out elsewhere was to reduce the potential headache for the people of Philadelphia. It was known that Capone had many enemies and that some might poise themselves near the exit to Eastern for nefarious reasons so it was decided to move Capone and his bodyguard, Frankie Cline, before the intended time of release. The reporter unsure of exactly when, continued that the two were secretly removed to Graterford Prison in Skippack Township. It seemed like the right move given that at one point roughly 1,500 people were waiting outside Eastern for a glimpse of Scarface Al.
Graterford prison, which was barely a year old during Capone's stay, closed in 2018 due to being an outdated facility according to modern standards. A new facility, State Correctional Institute - Phoenix, was built on the same property as Graterford.