Richard Reid Arrives At Supermax

As expected, convicted "Shoe-bomber" Richard Reid has arrived at the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado to begin serving his life sentence. Here is some information about Supermax, officially called the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility ( ADX ) in Florence:
Inmates call it the Alcatraz of the Rockies. Advocates call it unfortunate but necessary, given an increasingly violent prison population. Critics call it a concept that didn't work in 19th-century America and is in danger of overuse now. In the arid, remote high desert, the triangular, two-story, high-tech ADX is almost invisible, as are its 417 male inmates. Many spend 23 of every 24 hours double-locked in an 8-by-12-foot cell behind a steel door and barred grate. Some spend the day's remaining hour alone as well, exercising in a small concrete recreation area and subjected to strip searches upon leaving and re-entering their cells. Except for the guards, there is no direct human contact.
Here is some more, from this article on a classroom website:
Unparalled in America, it is the only prison specifically designed to keep every occupant in near-total solitary confinement, rarely allowing inmates to see other prisoners.

....The ADX has a three-year program that keeps inmates in their cells 23 hours a day for the first year, then gradually ``socializes'' them with other inmates and staff. In their last year, prisoners can be out of their cells from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and eat meals in a shared dining room, rather than having food shoved through a slot in their steel cell door.

...The average sentence is 36 years....

It is spent, typically, in a 12-by-7- foot cell. Beds, desks and stools are made of poured concrete. Toilets have a valve that shuts off the water if an inmate tries to flood his cell by stopping it up. Sinks have no taps, just buttons -- inmates used to unscrew the taps and use the plumbing parts as shanks.

A 42-inch window, 4 inches wide, looks out on a one-man concrete recreation yard, which prisoners with good behavior can eventually use.

The ADX goes to great lengths to bring everything into the cells -- books, food, television -- so that inmates never need to leave. A 12- inch black-and-white TV in each cell shows closed-circuit classes in psychology, education, anger management, parenting and literacy. Religious services of numerous denominations are piped in from a small chapel, where prison officials display for the videocamera the religious objects appropriate for a given faith.

Haney, the Santa Cruz psychologist who has testified as an expert witness in cases involving supermax confinement, said the effect of isolation in places like Florence is dramatic. Prisoners ``become extremely depressed and lethargic -- sleeping, lying on their bunks, staring at the ceiling, declining to go out and exercise,'' he said. They begin to lose memory, can't concentrate and suffer severe panic attacks, he said, or become uncontrollably enraged over insignificant things.
Here's an article about prisoner abuse by guards at the Florence Supermax.

Here's an analysis of Supermax prisons by Human Rights Watch

Here's the link to the Campaign to End Control Unit Prisons

Here's how the Bureau of Prisons describes supermax prisons.

Here are some of the more infamous inmates ADX Florence has housed:


Among the prisoners at Colorado's ADX-Florence:

- -- THEODORE KACZYNSKI, 56, the Unabomber, serving four consecutive life sentences.

- -- TIMOTHY McVEIGH, 30, sentenced to death for the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building which killed 168 people.

- -- TERRY NICHOLS, 43, McVeigh's accomplice, is now serving life in prison.

- -- CHARLES HARRELSON, 59, the father of actor Woody Harrelson, is serving two life sentences for the murder of a federal judge.

- -- RAYMOND LUC LEVASSEUR, 51, member of a U.S. radical group, serving 40 years for bombing buildings and attempted bombings in the 1970s.

- -- EYAD ISMOIL, 27, serving 240 years for driving the rental van holding the bomb in the World Trade Center attack.

- -- YU KIKUMURA, 46, Japanese Red Army terrorist, serving 30 years for transporting bombs in preparation for an attack on a Navy recruiting center.

- -- LUIS FELIPE, 35, leader of New York's Latin Kings gang, who ordered the murders of six gang members from his jail cell and is serving a life sentence.

- -- RODNEY HAMBRICK, 33, serving a 68-year sentence on bomb charges.

< Powell's Dubious Case for War | HAW: Historians Against the War >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort: