Forgotten Prison-logo

Forgotten Prison

KNKX Public Radio

McNeil Island in South Puget Sound is the Alcatraz you've never heard of. The now-abandoned prison on McNeil operated for 136 years. Today, the island is home to the Special Commitment Center, which houses Washington state's "sexually violent predators." A collaboration between KNKX and the Washington State Historical Society, Forgotten Prison tells the stories of inmates, guards, and children who grew up on the island. The history of this forgotten place can tell us a lot about how and why we lock people up.

McNeil Island in South Puget Sound is the Alcatraz you've never heard of. The now-abandoned prison on McNeil operated for 136 years. Today, the island is home to the Special Commitment Center, which houses Washington state's "sexually violent predators." A collaboration between KNKX and the Washington State Historical Society, Forgotten Prison tells the stories of inmates, guards, and children who grew up on the island. The history of this forgotten place can tell us a lot about how and why we lock people up.

Location:

United States

Description:

McNeil Island in South Puget Sound is the Alcatraz you've never heard of. The now-abandoned prison on McNeil operated for 136 years. Today, the island is home to the Special Commitment Center, which houses Washington state's "sexually violent predators." A collaboration between KNKX and the Washington State Historical Society, Forgotten Prison tells the stories of inmates, guards, and children who grew up on the island. The history of this forgotten place can tell us a lot about how and why we lock people up.

Twitter:

@knkxfm

Language:

English

Contact:

1-877-677-5659


Episodes

New Podcast: The Walk Home

9/7/2022
KNKX Public Radio and The Seattle Times want to share a new podcast: The Walk Home. Listen to the first episode here. To get new episodes as they come out, look for The Walk Home wherever you get your podcasts or visit thewalkhomepodcast.org.

Duration:00:32:09

Outsiders: A new podcast about homelessness from KNKX and The Seattle Times

1/29/2020
Homelessness on the West Coast is rising to crisis levels at a time of historic economic growth and prosperity. Why? KNKX Public Radio and The Seattle Times' Project Homeless spent one year in a city that’s grappling with homelessness. What’s it like to live outside for months on end? What’s it like when tents come to your neighborhood? What new solutions can city leaders find?

Duration:00:03:42

UPDATE: Laura McCollum leaves the island

6/18/2019
Laura McCollum, who was profiled in Episode 2 of Forgotten Prison, has been conditionally released from the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. Hosts Simone Alicea and Paula Wissel spoke with KNKX's Kirsten Kendrick about what that means.

Duration:00:08:30

Episode 6: Every Prison is an Island

2/26/2019
McNeil Island is an especially forgotten prison. But, in the end, all prisons are forgotten in some way. In the last episode of Forgotten Prison, hosts Simone Alicea and Paula Wissel wrestle with why that is.

Duration:00:38:46

Episode 5: It Happened Here

2/19/2019
Studying the history of an American prison is really just a study in American history. Pick a major event, and odds are good you can find at least one story related to McNeil Island.

Duration:00:44:53

Episode 4: Island Life

2/12/2019
One obvious thing that made the prison on McNeil unique was its island location. In Episode 4 of Forgotten Prison, we hear from former guards, inmates and children who grew up there, as well as someone descended from island homesteaders, about life in and around an island prison.

Duration:02:15:15

Episode 3: Designing Incarceration

2/5/2019
The abandoned prison on McNeil Island and its 136-year history can tell us a lot about why we lock people up and how it has changed over time. Hosts Simone Alicea and Paula Wissel explore the decaying structures on the island to learn how the modern American prison system came to be.

Duration:00:44:45

Episode 2: Not a Prison

1/29/2019
While the prison on McNeil Island closed in 2011, Washington state still runs the Special Commitment Center there. It's where the state keeps "sexually violent predators" who have served their prison time, but are deemed too dangerous to release into society. Technically, the commitment center is not a prison, but the reality is more complicated.

Duration:00:31:55

Analysis: Forgotten Prison hosts introduce listeners to life on McNeil Island

1/22/2019
KNKX reporters Paula Wissel and Simone Alicea have spent the past year digging into the history of McNeil Island, in partnership with the Washington State History Museum . They're sharing what they found in the six-part podcast, Forgotten Prison . They talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about what they learned.

Duration:00:07:37

Episode 1: Forgotten

1/22/2019
There are a thousand stories about McNeil Island. And odds are, you haven't heard any of them. In Episode 1 of Forgotten Prison, hosts Simone Alicea and Paula Wissel explain how we came to abandon one of the country's first federal prisons.

Duration:00:30:34

TRAILER: Forgotten Prison, a new podcast about McNeil Island

1/14/2019
KNKX premiers Forgotten Prison on Jan. 22, a new podcast featuring McNeil Island — the Alcatraz you've never heard of.

Duration:00:01:38