Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island

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Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island
Location Los Angeles, California
Status Operational
Security class Low-security
Population 976
Opened June 1, 1938
Managed by Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island (FCI Terminal Island) is a low-security United States federal prison for male inmates in California. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.

FCI Terminal Island is located at the entrance to Los Angeles Harbor, between San Pedro and Long Beach.


Aerial photograph of Reservation Point on Terminal Island, with the prison in the top right, above the Coast Guard base

The prison was opened at the southern end of Terminal Island, adjacent to a Coast Guard base, on June 1, 1938, with 610 male, and 40 female prisoners. It consisted of a central quadrangle surrounded by three cell blocks and cost $2 million to construct. In 1942, the U.S. Navy took control of the prison for use as a receiving station and later as a barracks for court-martialed prisoners. The facility was deactivated by the Navy in 1950 and turned over to the state of California for use as a medical and psychiatric institution.[1]

The state returned control to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in 1955 for conversion back to a low-to-medium security federal prison. The prison was coed, with female prisoners housed separately, until 1977, when overcrowding led to the transfer of the women to the federal prison in Pleasanton. The prison was given increased barbed wire and armed guards in the early 1980s in an effort to dispel the facility's "Club Fed" image. A corruption scandal rocked the prison in the early 1980s, resulting in the indictment of six employees on charges of bribes, cover-ups, marijuana sales to inmates, and other corruption. Those indicted included Charles DeSordi, the prison's chief investigator of crimes, the highest-ranking federal prison official ever to be indicted.[1]

Notable inmates (prior to 1982)[edit]

† Inmates released prior to 1982 are not listed on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Bonanno, SalvatoreSalvatore Bonanno Unlisted† Held at FCI Terminal Island from 1968 to 1972 on a credit card fraud conviction. Consigliere for the Bonanno crime family in New York City in the 1960s and son of former boss Joseph Bonanno.[2][3]
Bunker, EdwardEdward Bunker Unlisted† Held at FCI Terminal Island from 1973 to 1975. Crime fiction writer, screenwriter and actor; wrote No Beast So Fierce while incarcerated at FCI Terminal Island, which was adapted into the movie Straight Time starring Dustin Hoffman. Later appeared in several movies, including Reservoir Dogs.[4]
Capone, AlAl Capone Unlisted† Held at FCI Terminal Island from 1939 to 1940. Leader of the crime syndicate later known as the Chicago Outfit, which smuggled and bootlegged liquor during Prohibition in the 1920s; convicted of tax evasion in 1931.[5]
Hill, HenryHenry Hill Unlisted† Held at FCI Terminal Island in the 1970s. Former associate of the Lucchese crime family in New York City; portrayed by Ray Liotta in the 1990 film Goodfellas.[6][7]
Leary, TimothyTimothy Leary Unlisted† Held at FCI Terminal Island in 1974. Harvard professor and LSD guru; convicted in 1970 of a prior prison escape and marijuana possession.[8]
Manson, CharlesCharles Manson Unlisted† Held at FCI Terminal Island from 1956 to 1958 for car theft and check fraud. Currently serving a life sentence for murder at Corcoran State Prison; would later inspire Helter Skelter in murdering Sharon Tate and others in 1969.[9]
O'Day, AnitaAnita O'Day Unlisted† Held at FCI Terminal Island in 1954 on a conviction for heroin possession. Acclaimed jazz singer during the swing era in the 1930s and 1940s.[10]
The Port Chicago 50 Unlisted† Held at FCI Terminal Island from November 1944 to January 1946. 50 African-American sailors convicted of mutiny for refusing to load ammunition onto US Navy ships under unsafe conditions after the Port Chicago disaster, an explosion that killed 320 people, including 202 black sailors.[11]
Purim, FloraFlora Purim 2775 Held at FCI Terminal Island in 1976. Brazilian jazz singer at height of career during the mid-70s; convicted c. 1975 of cocaine possession.[12]
Stanley, OwsleyOwsley Stanley Unlisted† Held at FCI Terminal Island from 1970 to 1972. Famous LSD chemist, counterculture figure and Grateful Dead sound engineer. Sent to Terminal Island after a judge revoked an earlier release because of a second drug bust.[13]

Notable inmates (1982 to present)[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Cohen, MouliMouli Cohen 57613-112 Serving a 22-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2029. Internet music entrepreneur; convicted in 2011 of wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion for defrauding celebrities, investors, and a charity dedicated to help the poor of more than $31 million; the story was featured on the CNBC television show American Greed.[14]
McDavid, EricEric McDavid 16209-097 Released from custody in 2015; served 10 years. Member of the ecoterrorist group Earth Liberation Front; convicted in 2007 of conspiring to destroy a northern California dam, a genetics lab, cell phone towers, and other targets.[15][16]
Elgindy, AnthonyAnthony Elgindy 55479-198 Released from custody in 2013; served 8 years. Former stockbroker; convicted in 2006 of racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, and extortion for using information supplied by a corrupt FBI agent to spread negative publicity about companies through his Web site.[17]
O'Dea, BrianBrian O'Dea 20293-086 Transferred to a Canadian prison in 1992 after serving one year. Major drug trafficker in Canada and author of the book High: Confessions of a Pot Smuggler.
Parnes, AnthonyAnthony Parnes 87015-012 Held at FCI Terminal Island from 1987 until his extradition to Great Britain in 1988. British stockbroker who committed a multimillion-dollar fraud against the Guinness liquor company known as the Guinness Affair.[18][19]
Riconosciuto, MichaelMichael Riconosciuto 21309-086 Serving a 30-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2017. Computer expert; convicted in 1992 of conspiracy to produce and distribute methamphetamine.[20][21]
Robert Gilbeau 56978-298 Serving an 18-month sentence; scheduled for release in 2018 First active-duty admiral ever to be convicted of a felony. Lied to investigators about relationship with "Fat" Leonard Glenn Francis and pocketed $40,000 in kickbacks.[22]

Facility and services[edit]

All inmates are expected to maintain a regular job assignment, unless medically exempted. Many job assignments are controlled through a performance pay system, which provides monetary payment for work. UNICOR has a separate pay scale. Institutional maintenance jobs are usually the first assignment one will receive. These might include assignments to Food Service, as a unit orderly, or in a maintenance shop. However, a significant number of inmate jobs are available in the Federal Prison Industries. There is a waiting list for factory employment.

UNICOR employs and trains inmates through the operation of, and earnings from, the metal factory that produces high-quality metal products for the Federal government. One must obtain a GED for grade advancement and must participate in the Financial Responsibility Program (if required) to be employed in UNICOR. Federal Prison Industries, a U.S. government employment program, has a shop at FCI Terminal Island that specializes in repairing, refurbishing, and reconditioning furniture, office equipment, tires, and other government property.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gnerre, Sam (August 25, 2010). "Terminal Island's 'Big House'". South Bay Daily Breeze. 
  2. ^ "Bill Bonanno, 75, Mob Family Member, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  3. ^ Ann W. O'Neill (July 18, 1999). "Crime Story Doesn't Pay as He Expected". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ "Edward Bunker, Ex-Convict and Novelist, Is Dead at 71". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  5. ^ "FBI — Al Capone". FBI.gov. Archived from the original on July 6, 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  6. ^ "Terminal Island". Mafia Today. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  7. ^ "Henry Hill, Mobster and Movie Inspiration, Dies at 69". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  8. ^ Julia Lipkins (2012-08-15). "Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: A Buddy Film Starring Timothy Leary and G. Gordon Liddy". New York Public Library. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  9. ^ Emmons, Nuel (1986). Manson in His Own Words. New York: Grove Press. pp. 77–78.
  10. ^ Chris Morris. "Jazz great Anita O'Day dies at 87". The Hollywood Reporter. AP. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  11. ^ "Port Chicago Disaster". Usmm.org. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  12. ^ Richard Trubo (July 10, 1976). "Flora Purim Turns Prison Into Positive Experience". Lakeland Ledger. Lakeland, Florida. p. 5D. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  13. ^ Margalit Fox (March 14, 2011). "Owsley Stanley, Artisan of Acid, Is Dead at 76". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ "American Greed: Dealing in Deceit". CNBC. Retrieved December 13, 2015. 
  15. ^ "FBI — Using Intel Against Eco-Terrorists". FBI. 
  16. ^ "20-year sentence for ecoterrorist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  17. ^ "6-Year Sentence in Trading Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  18. ^ "American Tied to British Fraud Case Arrested". Los Angeles Times. 
  19. ^ "Parnes to repay ₤2m to Guinness". The Glasgow Herald. October 28, 1987. p. 3. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  20. ^ "Jury Says Guilty -- Man Claims Frame-Up But Faces 20-Year Term After Verdict On Seven Drug-Related Charges". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. January 19, 1992. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  21. ^ "The Riconosciuto Letters, Exhibit "B"". Educate-yourself.org. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  22. ^ "Former admiral sentenced to 18 months in ‘Fat Leonard’ case". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-07-15. 
  23. ^ "FCI Terminal Island". Bop.gov. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°43′40″N 118°16′03″W / 33.7279°N 118.2675°W / 33.7279; -118.2675