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McNeil Island facts for kids

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McNeil Island Prison - NARA - 299549
The prison circa 1890.

McNeil Island is an island in western Puget Sound, located just west of Steilacoom, Washington, with a land area of 17.177 km² (6.6319 sq mi). It lies just north of Anderson Island. Fox Island is to the north, across Carr Inlet. To the west McNeil Island is separated from Key Peninsula by Pitt Passage. The Washington mainland lies to the east, across the south basin of Puget Sound. The island has been owned by the government for most of its history and has been home to the United States Federal Penitentiary from 1875 until turned over to Washington State Department of Corrections in 1981 and was renamed as the "McNeil Island Corrections Center" until 2011, when it was closed. Prior to its closing on April 1, 2011, it was the last remaining island prison in the country to be accessible only by air and sea.

In November 2010, the Washington State Department of Corrections announced its plans to close the penitentiary by 2011, thereby saving $14 million in the process. A detention center for violent offenders is to remain on the island.

The McNeil Island Historical Society was chartered in 2010 shortly after the closing of the prison for the purpose of educating the public about, and preserving, the rich history of McNeil Island.

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