|Location||Fremont County, near Florence, Colorado|
|Managed by||Federal Bureau of Prisons|
The United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) is an American federal supermax prison for male inmates located in Fremont County, Colorado. It is unofficially known as ADX Florence, Florence ADMAX, Supermax, or the Alcatraz of the Rockies. Part of the Florence Federal Correctional Complex, which is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice, it houses the inmates in the federal prison system who are deemed the most dangerous and in need of the tightest control.
ADX Florence was constructed as a response to several serious security breaches at federal prisons, including those that occurred at the United States Penitentiary, Marion, a high security facility in Marion, Illinois, on October 22, 1983, in which Correction Officers Merle Clutts and Robert Hoffman were stabbed to death in two separate incidents. Relatively lax security procedures allowed an inmate, while walking down a hall, to turn to the side and approach another cell so an accomplice could unlock his handcuffs with a stolen key and provide him with a knife. Both officers were killed using this tactic. Clutts's killer, Thomas Silverstein, is serving a life sentence at ADX. Hoffman's killer, Clayton Fountain, died in prison of natural causes in 2004.
As a response, USP Marion went into "permanent lockdown" and transformed itself into a "control unit" prison for the next 23 years, requiring inmates to remain in solitary confinement for 22 to 23 hours each day, and prohibiting communal dining, exercise, and religious services.
Following the killings, Norman Carlson, then director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, argued that a more secure type of prison needed to be designed, where uncontrollable inmates could be isolated from correction officers and other prisoners for the sake of security and safety. Marion became a model for the subsequent construction of ADX, a facility designed from the ground up as a control unit prison. Years later, Carlson said that building such a prison was the only way to handle inmates who "show absolutely no concern for human life." He pointed out that since Silverstein and Fountain were already serving multiple life sentences in a maximum security facility, simply adding another life sentence would have had no real effect or enhanced safety.
ADX opened in November 1994. The residents of Fremont County welcomed the prison as a source of employment. At the time, the county was already home to nine existing prisons. However, the lure of between 750 and 900 permanent jobs, in addition to another 1,000 temporary jobs during the prison's construction, led residents in the area to raise $160,000 to purchase 600 acres (240 ha) for the new prison. Hundreds of people attended the groundbreaking for the facility, which was designed jointly by two leading architecture firms in Colorado Springs, DLR Group and LKA Partners, and cost $60 million to build.
ADX Florence houses about 490 male inmates, each assigned to one of six security levels.
The facility is best known for housing inmates who have been deemed too dangerous, too high-profile or too great a national security risk for even a maximum-security prison. These include the leaders of violent gangs who continued to issue orders to their members from lower security facilities, including Larry Hoover of the Gangster Disciples, and Barry Mills and Tyler Bingham of the Aryan Brotherhood. ADX also houses foreign terrorists, including the only person convicted in civilian court of the September 11 attacks, Zacarias Moussaoui, the perpetrator of the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt, Faisal Shahzad, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Yousef; as well as domestic terrorists, including serial bombers Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph. Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was housed at ADX before he was sentenced to death in 1997 and transferred to the United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, which houses federal death row inmates. McVeigh's co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, is serving a life sentence at ADX. Robert Hanssen, the former FBI agent who betrayed several spies to the Soviet Union and Russia, is serving a life sentence at ADX for his crimes. The prison also houses inmates who are a high escape risk, including Richard McNair, who escaped from a county jail and two other prisons before being sent to ADX.
However, the majority of inmates have been sent there because they have an extensive history of committing violent crimes against corrections officers and fellow inmates in other prisons, up to and including murder. These inmates are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for at least the first year. Depending on their conduct, inmates are then gradually allowed out for longer periods. The long-term goal is to keep them at ADX for three years, then transfer them to a less restrictive prison to serve out the remainder of their sentences. According to a 1998 report in the San Francisco Chronicle, ADX Florence's main purpose is to "try and extract reasonably peaceful behavior from extremely violent career prisoners."
ADX Florence is a 37-acre (15 ha), 490-bed complex at 5880 Highway 67, Florence, Colorado, about 100 miles (160 km) south of Denver and 40 miles (64 km) south of Colorado Springs. It is one part of the Florence Federal Correctional Complex (FFCC), which comprises three correctional facilities, each with a different security rating.
The majority of the facility is above ground. The only part that is underground is a subterranean corridor that links cellblocks to the lobby. Inmates spend 23 hours a day locked in their cells and are escorted by a minimum of three officers for their five hours of private recreation per week. Each cell has a desk, a stool, and a bed, which are almost entirely made out of poured concrete, as well as a toilet that shuts off if blocked, a shower that runs on a timer to prevent flooding, and a sink lacking a potentially dangerous tap. Rooms may also be fitted with polished steel mirrors bolted to the wall, an electric light, a radio, and a black and white television that shows recreational, educational, and religious programming.
The 4 in (10 cm) by 4 ft (120 cm) windows are designed to prevent inmates from knowing their specific location within the complex because they can see only the sky and roof through them, making it virtually impossible to plan an escape. Inmates exercise in a concrete pit resembling an empty swimming pool, also designed to prevent them from knowing their location in the facility. Telecommunication with the outside world is forbidden, and food is hand-delivered by correction officers. However, inmates sent here from other prisons can potentially be allowed to eat in a shared dining room. The prison as a whole contains a multitude of motion detectors and cameras, and 1,400 remote-controlled steel doors. Pressure pads and twelve-foot-tall (3.7 m) razor wire fences surround the perimeter.
Cheri Nolan, a Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President George W. Bush, toured ADX Florence in 2004 while a member of the advisory board for the National Institute of Corrections, a federal agency that supports correctional programs. Nolan stated, "I've never seen anything like it as far as the technology and physical set up. Once you're inside you really can't tell where you are - what's north, south, east or west. The way it's designed, it's an interesting kind of setup," Nolan said. "Because of the high value of targets they have there - on a world scale, whether it be a drug cartel or terrorists - they are as concerned with someone trying to get in to break someone out as much as they are about inmates trying to escape. The protection around the prison is pretty remarkable."
The Federal Bureau of Prisons allowed the media to take a guided tour of ADX on September 14, 2007. Attending reporters remarked on "an astonishing and eerie quiet" within the prison as well as a sense of safety due to the rigorous security measures in place within the facility. One journalist who took the tour, 60 Minutes producer Henry Schuster, said: "A few minutes inside that cell and two hours inside Supermax were enough to remind me why I left high school a year early. The walls close in very fast."
Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber, stated in a series of 2006 letters to a Colorado Springs newspaper that the ADX is meant to "inflict misery and pain." Charles Harrelson, who was sent to ADX after a failed attempt to escape from a Georgia prison, said: "Part of the plan here is sensory deprivation...It could be infinitely worse." A former ADX warden described the place as "a cleaner version of Hell". As of 2007[update], there have been hundreds of "involuntary feedings" and four suicides. In June 2009 Richard Reid, commonly known as the "shoe bomber," went on a hunger strike and was force-fed. Nonetheless, the prison has come under far less scorn than comparable facilities at the state level. Jamie Fellner of Human Rights Watch said after a tour of the facility, "The Bureau of Prisons has taken a harsh punitive model and implemented it as well as anybody I know."
In 2012, 11 inmates filed a federal class-action suit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and officials who run ADX Florence (Bacote v. Federal Bureau of Prisons). This suit alleged chronic abuse, failure to properly diagnose and neglect of prisoners who are seriously mentally ill.
Notable current inmates
This list contains foreign citizens who committed or attempted to commit terrorist attacks against United States citizens and interests.
|Inmate Name||Register Number||Status||Details|
|Zacarias Moussaoui||51427-054||Serving a life sentence.||Al-Qaeda senior member, pleaded guilty to terrorism conspiracy charges in 2005 for playing a key role in planning the September 11 attacks by helping the hijackers obtain flight lessons, money and material used in the attacks.|
|Serving life sentences.||Al-Qaeda operatives; convicted in 1994 of terrorism conspiracy and other charges in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six people and injured over 1000. Yousef was also convicted in 1996 of planning Project Bojinka, a foiled plot conceived by senior Al-Qaeda member Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to bomb twelve planes in a 48-hour period.|
|Serving life sentences.||Al-Qaeda operatives; convicted in connection with the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Africa, which were conceived by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden; the bombings killed 224 people and injured over 4000.|
|Richard Reid||24079-038||Serving a life sentence.||Al-Qaeda operative; pleaded guilty in 2002 to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder in connection with his 2001 attempt to detonate explosive devices hidden in his shoes on a plane traveling from Paris to Miami; known as the "Shoe Bomber."|
|Umar Abdulmutallab||44107-039||Serving a life sentence.||Al-Qaeda supporter and follower of the late militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki; pleaded guilty in 2011 to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction for trying to detonate an explosive sewn into his underwear on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009; known as the "Underwear Bomber."|
|Iyman Faris||46680-083||Serving a 20-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2020.||Al-Qaeda operative; pleaded guilty in 2003 to terrorism conspiracy and providing material support to Al-Qaeda by researching potential targets, including the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, and obtaining equipment to be used in attacks at the behest of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.|
|Ahmed Ressam||29638-086||Serving a 37-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2032.||Al-Qaeda operative; arrested while transporting explosives into the U.S. from Canada; convicted in 2001 of terrorism conspiracy for planning to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on December 31, 1999 in what is known as one of the 2000 millennium attack plots.|
|Dritan Duka||61285-066||Serving a life sentence.||Involved in the 2007 Fort Dix attack plot; convicted of conspiring to kill American soldiers and possessing firearms with the intent to conduct a terrorist attack at the New Jersey military base. Four co-conspirators were also sentenced to prison.|
|Simón Trinidad||27896-016||Serving a 60-year sentence under the name Juvenal Ovidio Palmera Pineda; scheduled for release in 2056.||Member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a guerrilla group on the U.S. State Department list of Terrorist Organizations; convicted in 2007 of terrorism conspiracy for his involvement in the 2003 kidnapping of three American military contractors.|
This list contains American citizens who committed or attempted to commit terrorist attacks against United States citizens and interests.
|Inmate Name||Register Number||Status||Details|
|Ahmed Omar Abu Ali||70250-083||Serving a life sentence.||Al-Qaeda operative; convicted in 2005 of plotting to assassinate U.S. President George W. Bush; federal prosecutors based their case on a confession Abu Ali provided to Saudi Arabian intelligence officials, which Abu Ali claimed was motivated by torture.|
|Theodore Kaczynski||04475-046||Serving a life sentence.||Known as the Unabomber; pleaded guilty in 1998 to building, transporting, and mailing explosives to carry out 16 bombings from 1978 to 1995 in a mail bombing campaign aimed at destroying modern technology, which killed three people and injured 23 others.|
|Terry Nichols||08157-031||Serving a life sentence.||Convicted of carrying out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people. Co-conspirator Timothy McVeigh was executed in Indiana in 2001.|
|Eric Rudolph||18282-058||Serving a life sentence.||Member of the extremist group Army of God; pleaded guilty in 2005 to carrying out four bombings between 1996 and 1998, including the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta; three people were killed during the bombing spree.|
|Faisal Shahzad||63510-054||Serving a life sentence.||Al-Qaeda supporter; pleaded guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and other charges in connection with the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt; received explosives training in 2009 from the terrorist organization Tehrik-i-Taliban in Pakistan.|
|Naser Jason Abdo||80882-280||Serving a life sentence.||U.S. Army private who refused to deploy to Afghanistan and went AWOL; convicted in 2012 of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction for plotting to detonate a bomb at a restaurant near Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas when it was filled with soldiers in 2011.|
|Inmate Name||Register Number||Status||Details|
|Noshir Gowadia||95518-022||Serving a 32-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2033.||Former engineer for the U.S. Defense Department and principal designer of the B-2 stealth bomber; convicted in 2011 of using classified information to assist the People's Republic of China produce cruise missiles with stealth technology.|
|Robert Hanssen||48551-083||Serving a life sentence.||Former senior FBI agent assigned to counterintelligence; pleaded guilty in 2002 to espionage for passing classified information to the Soviet Union and later to Russia over a 20-year period; perpetrated what was regarded at the time as the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history.|
|Walter Myers||29796-016||Serving a life sentence.||Former State Department official convicted of espionage for Cuba.|
|Harold Nicholson||49535-083||Serving a 23-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2024.||Highest-ranking CIA officer to be convicted of espionage; pleaded guilty in 1997 to passing classified information to Russia from 1994 to 1996; pleaded guilty in 2010 to attempting to collect payments from Russian agents for his past espionage activities.|
|Inmate Name||Register Number||Status||Details|
|Haji Bagcho||29820-016||Serving a life sentence.||Afghan national and one of the largest heroin traffickers in the world; convicted in 2012 of conspiracy and narco-terrorism for using drug trafficking profits to assist high-level members of the Taliban further their insurgency in Afghanistan.|
|Francisco Javier Arellano Felix||Unknown||Serving a life sentence under extremely restrictive conditions.||Former leader of the Tijuana Cartel, which imported thousands of tons of cocaine into the US and killed over 1,000 civilians and law enforcement officers over a 16-year period; pleaded guilty in 2008 to running a drug trafficking enterprise and money laundering.|
|Juan Garcia Abrego||09935-000||Serving a life sentence.||Convicted in 1996 of operating the Gulf Cartel, a criminal enterprise that smuggled thousands of tons of cocaine and marijuana into the US from Mexico over a 16-year period.|
|Osiel Cardenas Guillen||62604-079||Serving a 25-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2025.||Succeeded Juan Abrego as leader of the Gulf Cartel; extradited to the US from Mexico in 2007 and pleaded guilty to threatening to murder U.S. law enforcement agents, drug trafficking and money laundering.|
|Vincent Basciano||30694-054||Serving a life sentence.||Served as Acting Boss of the Bonanno Crime Family in 2004 after Boss Joseph Massino was arrested; convicted in 2006 of murder, murder conspiracy, and racketeering charges; convicted in 2011 of ordering the 2004 murder of Bonanno associate Randolph Pizzolo.|
|Serving life sentences.||Leaders of the Latin Kings gang; convicted in 1996 and 2000 of murder conspiracy and racketeering for running a criminal enterprise whose members engage in murder, assault, armed robbery, and drug trafficking; Felipe is known as "King Blood," Colon as "La Corona."|
|Serving life sentences.||Leaders of the Mexican Mafia; convicted of racketeering and murder conspiracy for running violent drug trafficking operations.|
|Serving life sentences.||Leaders of the Nuestra Familia gang, which engages in drug trafficking, extortion and murder inside and outside of prisons in California; arrested as part of Operation Black Widow in 2001; pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in 2004.|
|Serving life sentences.||Aryan Brotherhood prison gang founders; transferred to ADX in 2006 after being connected to violent gang activities in prison; convicted of murder, murder conspiracy, and racketeering for ordering the killing of two African-American inmates at USP Lewisburg in Pennsylvania.|
|Thomas Silverstein||14634-116||Serving a 90-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2095.||Aryan Brotherhood prison gang leader; transferred to ADX after murdering Correction Officer Merle Clutts at USP Marion in 1983 while serving a sentence for bank robbery. Silverstein's crime was the impetus for the construction of ADX.|
|Larry Hoover||86063-024||Serving a life sentence.||Leader of the Gangster Disciples in Chicago; sentenced to life in state prison in 1973 for murder; convicted in 1997 of drug conspiracy, extortion, money laundering, and running a continuing criminal enterprise for leading the gang from state prison.|
|Jeff Fort||92298-024||Serving an 80-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2038.||Founder of the El-Rukn (Black P. Stones) gang in Chicago; convicted of drug trafficking charges in 1983; convicted of terrorism conspiracy in 1987 for plotting to commit attacks inside the U.S. in exchange for weapons and $2.5 million from Libya.|
|Howard Mason||24651-053||Serving a life sentence.||Convicted in 1989 of racketeering charges in connection with his leadership of "The Bebos," a violent drug gang in Queens, NY; ordered the 1988 murder of New York City Police Officer Edward Byrne.|
|O. G. Mack||30063-037||Serving a 50-year sentence under his actual name, Omar Portee; scheduled for release in 2044.||Founder of the United Blood Nation gang; convicted in 2002 of racketeering and murder conspiracy, as well as narcotics and weapons charges.|
|Inmate Name||Register Number||Status||Details|
|H. Rap Brown||99974-555||Serving a life sentence under his actual name, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin.||Sentenced to life in state prison for the 2000 murder of Deputy Sheriff Ricky Kinchen in Fulton County, Georgia; transferred from Georgia prison system to ADX in 2007 due to his high-profile status.|
|Scott Fountain||02158-090||Serving a 60-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2044.||Aryan Brotherhood prison gang member; convicted of the 1984 murder of Correction Officer Boyd Spikerman at FCI Oxford in Wisconsin. Accomplice Matthew Granger was transferred to a state facility.|
|Matthew Hale||15177-424||Serving a 40-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2037.||Founder of the World Church of the Creator, once one of the largest neo-nazi groups in the U.S.; convicted in 2004 of soliciting the murder of Federal Judge Joan Lefkow for ruling against him in a copyright lawsuit brought by a mainstream church with the same name.|
|Richard McNair||13829-045||Serving a life sentence after being convicted of a state murder charge in North Dakota in 1987.||Held at ADX due to multiple prison escapes; escaped from the Ward County Jail in Minot, ND in 1987 by using lip balm to slip out of handcuffs, from the ND State Penitentiary in Bismarck in 1992 by crawling through a ventilator duct, and from USP Pollock in Louisiana in 2006 by hiding under bags of mail.|
|Michael Rudkin||17133-014||Serving a 90-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2099.||Former correction officer at FCI Danbury in CT; sentenced to prison in 2008 for having sex with an inmate; convicted in 2010 of trying to hire a hitman to kill the inmate, his ex-wife, his ex-wife's boyfriend and a federal agent while incarcerated at USP Coleman in Florida.|
|Michael Swango||08352-424||Serving a life sentence.||Physician and serial killer; pleaded guilty in 2000 to fatally poisoning four patients; has been linked to scores of other deaths.|
|Dwight York||17911-054||Serving a life sentence.||Founder of the black separatist cult Nuwaubian Nation of Moors; made millions of dollars from the forced labor of cult members; convicted in 2004 of racketeering and child molestation for having sex with underage members; known by supporters as Dr. Malachi York.|
- Supermax prison
- List of U.S. federal prisons
- Federal Bureau of Prisons
- Incarceration in the United States
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