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Did Al Capone Die in Prison?

Al Capone was one of the most notorious gangsters in American history. As the leader of the Chicago Outfit crime syndicate during the Prohibition era, Capone made millions through bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling rackets. His criminal empire dominated Chicago in the 1920s and early 1930s until his conviction and imprisonment for tax evasion in 1931. Capone spent the last years of his life behind bars, eventually dying from cardiac arrest due to complications from syphilis in 1947. But did the infamous mob boss really die while still serving his prison sentence?

Al Capone’s Criminal Career

Al Capone spent over two decades building his Chicago criminal empire. Some key events and crimes from his notorious career include:

1918Joins Five Points Gang in NYC
1920Moves to Chicago, works for Johnny Torrio’s crime outfit
1925Takes over as boss after Torrio retires
1929Valentine’s Day Massacre kills 7 rival gang members
1931Convicted of tax evasion, sentenced to 11 years in federal prison

As boss, Capone expanded the Outfit’s rackets and consolidated control over the city. His use of violence against rival gangs and law enforcement was infamous. The events that eventually led to his downfall began with the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, which drew increased attention from the federal government and its tax investigators.

Capone’s Federal Conviction and Prison Sentence

Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison in 1931 after being convicted of 22 counts of tax evasion. Despite his clearly illegal activities, authorities had difficulty building a case against Capone until he was indicted for failing to pay taxes on massive illegal income estimated around $100 million.

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At his sentencing, Capone stated “I have been made out as a monster, when as a matter of fact my very victims will tell you that I was always a perfect gentleman and a good friend.” But Judge James H. Wilkerson dismissed these claims, stating:

“It is time for somebody to impress upon this defendant that the law should be enforced against all classes.”

Capone was fined $50,000, charged $30,000 for prosecution costs, and sentenced to 11 years in federal prison. He was also forced to repay the government $215,000 plus interest due from his back taxes.

Initially held in Cook County Jail, Capone was then sent to the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta in May 1932. As a high profile prisoner, he received luxuries like private cells and furnishings. But in 1934, he was transferred to the new high-security prison Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay to reduce this preferential treatment.

Capone’s Time at Alcatraz

Al Capone spent over 4 years imprisoned at Alcatraz from 1934-1939 as inmate #85. The harsh, isolated island prison was meant to suppress the power and influence he still held in Chicago.

While at Alcatraz, Capone’s mental and physical health deteriorated. Prison warden James A. Johnston described his transformation:

“From the day Al Capone walked through the gates of Alcatraz, he has been getting weaker day by day. His decline has been rapid since he has been here. … He walks with a limp, the sparkle has gone from his eyes, and his power to reason has become impaired.”

Due to developing dementia brought on by syphilis, Capone was granted an early release from his sentence in November 1939. He had served just over 7 years of his original 11-year sentence.

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Did Al Capone Die in Prison?

After being released from Alcatraz in 1939, Al Capone’s health only continued to decline. The untreated syphilis infection he had contracted in his youth severely degraded his mental capacities.

Capone was admitted to Baltimore’s Union Memorial Hospital in January 1947 to undergo treatment for a stroke as well as cardiac issues. On January 25, 1947, Capone had a fatal heart attack and stroke at the age of 48.

So while Al Capone did spend his final years suffering from neurosyphilis and other complications of an untreated syphilis infection, he did not technically die while still imprisoned or serving out his sentence. However, his early release in 1939 was purely due to his failing health and incapacitation – prison is what first exposed and then exacerbated his condition. Without his conviction and years spent behind bars, Capone would likely not have died so young.

Related Questions

Where was Al Capone incarcerated?

Al Capone served his tax evasion sentence at multiple prisons. He started at Cook County Jail before being transferred to the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta in 1932. In 1934 he was sent to the new high-security Alcatraz prison where he remained until his early release in 1939.

What was Al Capone’s cause of death?

Al Capone died from cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke. But his death was ultimately a result of advanced neurosyphilis caused by an untreated syphilis infection he likely contracted as a young man decades prior. The mental and physical deterioration led to his weakened state and early death at age 48.

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When did Al Capone die?

Al Capone died on January 25, 1947 at the age of 48. He passed away at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore after being admitted for treatment following a stroke and heart issues.

Where is Al Capone buried?

Al Capone is buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. The famous gangster was buried next to his father and other family members in the Capone family plot following his death in 1947.

Did Al Capone go to Alcatraz?

Yes, Al Capone served over 4 years at the notorious Alcatraz federal prison from 1934-1939. He was sent there in 1934 from Atlanta U.S. Penitentiary in order to suppress the power and comforts he enjoyed at the previous facility.


In summary, while notorious mob boss Al Capone did not technically die while still in prison, his death was a direct result of untreated syphilis that led to his rapidly declining health and early release. After spending over 7 years behind bars, Capone succumbed to health issues stemming from neurosyphilis and cardiac problems just 8 years after his release, dying at the young age of 48. Prison exposed Capone’s hidden condition and accelerated his physical and mental deterioration. Without his incarceration for tax evasion in the 1930s, Capone likely would have lived longer and met a different end than dying weakened and demented in a Baltimore hospital. So while he did not die in the strict custody of the law, Al Capone’s ultimate fate was very much intertwined with and hastened by his criminal career and conviction that brought his life of crime to an end.

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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