Federal Correctional Institution

Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island (FCI Terminal Island) is a medium-security prison for both men and women (separate facilities) located on Reservation Point on Terminal Island in Los Angeles. The other Federal prison in the Los Angeles area is the Metropolitan Detention Center in Downtown Los Angeles. They are both managed by the Bureau of Prisons Western Regional Office in Dublin, California. In 2005, the prison housed just under 1,200 prisoners.

Federal Prison Industries (a US govt. program) has a shop at FCI Terminal Island using prison labor that specialized in repairing, refurbishing, and reconditioning furniture, office equipment, tires, and other types of Government property.

Famous Inmates

Jeffrey MacDonald was held twice at Terminal Island. First in 1979 right after he was convicted of murder, and then again in 1982 after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of his conviction.

From early 1956 until late 1958 Charles Manson was imprisoned for stealing a ’51 Mercury. Charles Manson was later convicted of trying to cash a government check and was first sentenced to McNeil Island in Washington state in 1961, but ended up back at Terminal Island in 1966. When he was released in 1967 he told the releasing officer that he didn’t want to leave.

After Al Capone had finished his Federal felony sentence at Alcatraz, he was transferred to FCI Terminal Island in 1939 to serve a one-year misdemeanor sentence.

Dr. Timothy Leary (famed Harvard professor/LSD guru) was incarcerated there in 1974. By coincidence, it was at the same time as his arch legal nemesis, G. Gordon Liddy, former FBI agent and Richard Nixon’s head man in the Watergate scandal.

Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno, subject of Gay Talese’s Mafia best-seller “Honor Thy Father” as well as the model for Michael Corleone in Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” served his sentence at TI. Upon his release, his younger brother, Joe Jr. (both sons of notorious Mafia chief “Joey Bananas”) was transferred there to complete his Federal time 1972-75-1975.

Another celebrity TI prisoner was future screenwriter Eddie Bunker,who was often visited by Dustin Hoffman to secure the rights to Bunker’s prison novel “No Beast So Fierce” which became Hoffman’s moderately successful film “Straight Time”. Former drug addict, bank robber, Bunker was able to channel his energy and draw on his long-time prison experience to become Hollywood’s leading authority on prison life with the release of his dark, griddy drama “Animal Factory”. He often appeared in small acting roles as well, the most notable, “Mr. Blue” in Quentin Tarentino’s break-out smash “Reservoir Dogs”‘

Other notables incarcerated during the mid 70’s were music entrepreneur, Steve Eastwood and famed jazz vocalist, Flora Purim (ex-member of Chick Corea’s “Return to Forever”). They used their jail time to collaborate on Flora’s acclaimed album “Open Your Eyes You Can Fly” which became known to jazz fans as her “freedom” album when released in 1976. The success of the album both re-established Flora’s solo career and jump-started Eastwood’s concert promotion success, which began with Hawaii’s Diamondhead Crater Festival, New Years, 1976, just months after his release from Terminal Island.

Edward Morrissey, husband of Rev. Mary Manin Morrissey (founder of Living Enrichment Center), is slated for release FCI Terminal Island in late 2006. Edward Morrissey is serving time for money laundering and using church funds for personal expenses.

Gangster Henry Hill, the protagonist of the movie Goodfellas[1]