In 1934, Attorney General Homer Cummings along with Sanford Bates, the head of the Federal Prisons, made arrangements to send Capone to a facility where he would be unable to leverage the system. Alcatraz was the perfect answer to a problem that no one could seem to control. In August of 1934, without any formal notice, Capone was placed on a secure prison railroad car, on a journey along with 52 other inmates to America's Devil Island.
From the first moment of his arrival, Capone worked to manipulate the system. Warden Johnston had a custom of meeting the new "fish" when they first arrived at Alcatraz, and usually participated in their brief orientation. Johnston wrote in a later memoir that he had little trouble recognizing Capone while he stood in the lineup. Capone was grinning, and making quiet smug comments from the side of his mouth to other inmates. When it became his turn to approach Warden Johnston, it appeared that he wanted to show off to the other inmates by asking questions on their behalf in a leader-type role. Johnston quickly provided him his prison AZ number, and made him get back in line with the other convicts. During Capone's time on Alcatraz, he made several attempts to con Johnston into allowing him special privileges, but all were denied. Johnston maintained that Capone would not be given any special rights and would have to follow the rules as would any other inmate.
Capone eventually conceded and one day made the comment to Johnston, "It looks like Alcatraz has got me licked." Capone spent 4 ½ years on Alcatraz and held a variety of jobs. Capone's time on Alcatraz was not easy time. Capone got into a fight with another inmate in the recreation yard and was placed in isolation for eight days. While working in the prison basement, an inmate who was standing in line waiting for a haircut, exchanged words with Capone and stabbed him with a pair of shears. Capone was admitted into the prison hospital and released a few days later with a minor wound. Capone eventually became symptomatic from syphilis, a disease he had evidently been carrying for years. In 1938, he was transferred to Terminal Island Prison in Southern California to serve out the remainder of his sentence, and was released in November of 1939.