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Atlanta’s prison history

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One of three penitentiary facilities created by the 1891 Three Prisons Act, which also created the Federal Prison System, sits just southeast of our city.

The Atlanta Federal Penitentiary opened in 1902. Over the years, it has housed many notable inmates, including Whitey Bulger, Al Capone, Jimmy Burke, John Gotti, Frank Abagnale, Carlo Ponzi, Bernie Madoff and more.

For some time, the Atlanta facility was the largest federal prison, holding 3,000 inmates. Renamed United States Penitentiary, Atlanta in 1930, it is now a medium-security facility. Of the three beneficiaries of the act, only Atlanta and Leavenworth remain open.

– Laura Cubbage, 360 Media, Inc.

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