Former Alcatraz guards and inmates hold one last reunion on The Rock

(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

After escaping from several other prisons, Bill Baker found himself at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary.

A convicted car thief, Baker was at the maximum high-security prison for the last three years of his sentence, and he told Inside Edition he actually "became a better criminal here. I learned how to do counterfeit payroll checks, and that's what I did when I got out." On Aug. 12, Baker was back at Alcatraz, more than 50 years after it closed its doors, for the final official reunion of the Alcatraz Alumni Association.

For nearly 30 years, former inmates, guards, and their families have been coming back to Alcatraz for annual reunions, giving them a chance to look back at life on The Rock. Baker said prisoners and guards "pretty much had the same experience," and they've always been able to get along at the reunions. "My job was not to punish them," former guard Jim Albright said. "Their punishment was being removed from the street. My job was safety and security."

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Many of the guards lived on the island with their families in Building 64. Betty Stone was 3 when her family moved there in 1950, and her dad told her she would stand out on a balcony and watch the prisoners working below. This year's reunion was the last official one because there aren't very many former guards and inmates still living; Stone used to attend with her father, who died eight years ago. "It was important to my dad," she told Inside Edition. "This is sharing our heritage and the history." Catherine Garcia

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.