Doors closing at Washington's McNeil Island prison

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MCNEIL ISLAND, Pierce County — When the prison that eventually would become McNeil Island Corrections Center opened more than 135 years ago, a tight-knit community of fishermen and loggers, brothel owners and bootleggers, and prison employees and their children developed around it.

As in any small town, everybody knew their neighbors' business — even if their neighbors were serving 15 to life.

"It was a wonderful place to grow up," recalls Tim Taylor, 60, of Longbranch, Pierce County....

These days, the daily ferries carrying inmates, visitors and corrections staff have mostly been replaced by large barges as workers strip the sprawling prison of anything salvageable. On April 1, McNeil Island, which at its peak was home to 1,700 inmates and has housed the likes of Charles Manson; Robert Stroud, better known as the "Birdman of Alcatraz"; and Frank Colacurcio Sr., will be shuttered for good....

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