|Location||Fremont County, near Florence, Colorado|
|Security class||Administrative Maximum Security|
|Population||338 (September 2021)|
|Managed by||Federal Bureau of Prisons|
The United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (USP Florence ADMAX) is an American federal prison in Fremont County near Florence, Colorado. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. USP ADX Florence, which opened in 1994, is classed as a supermax or "control unit" prison, thus providing a higher, more controlled level of custody than a maximum security prison. USP ADX Florence forms part of the Federal Correctional Complex, Florence (FCC Florence), which is situated on 49 acres (20 hectares) of land and houses different facilities with varying degrees of security, including the United States Penitentiary, Florence High.
USP ADX Florence was commissioned as the Federal Bureau of Prisons needed a unit designed specifically for the secure housing of those prisoners most capable of extreme, sustained violence toward staff or other inmates. As of September 2021, there are 338 prisoners. They are confined 23 hours per day in single cells with facilities made of poured, reinforced concrete to deter self-harm, and are under 24-hour supervision, carried out intensively with high staff–inmate ratios.
The institution is unofficially known as ADX Florence or the Alcatraz of the Rockies. It is part of the Federal Correctional Complex, Florence, is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), a division of the United States Department of Justice. The complex also includes an adjacent minimum-security camp that, as of February 2019,[update] houses more prisoners than the supermax unit. The number of inmates at the facility has significantly declined, with a Prison Rape Elimination Act audit in early 2021 reporting that two housing units were no longer operating due to a low population. According to this document, the facility has a maximum capacity of 551 inmates, with a current population as of June 20, 2021, of 344 inmates.
USP ADX Florence houses male inmates in the federal prison system deemed the most dangerous and in need of the tightest control, including prisoners whose escape would pose a serious threat to national security. The BOP does not have a designated supermax facility for women. Women in the BOP system classified as "special management concerns" due to violence or escape attempts are confined in the administrative unit of Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.
In 1983, Thomas Silverstein and Clayton Fountain, members of the Aryan Brotherhood, fatally stabbed correctional officers Merle Clutts and Robert Hoffman at the United States Penitentiary, Marion. The stabbings took place only a few hours apart and were blamed on inadequate prison design.
Federal Bureau of Prisons director Norman Carlson argued for the creation of a new type of facility where the most dangerous, uncontrollable inmates could be isolated from correction officers and other prisoners for security and safety. Under his guidance, the United States Penitentiary, Marion was operated in "permanent lockdown" for the next two decades. It became a model for the design of ADX as a control unit prison. Carlson said that such a prison would hold criminals desperate enough to murder corrections officers or other inmates in the hopes of being sentenced to death. He argued that as draconian as these measures were, they were the only way to deal with inmates who have "absolutely no concern for human life."
USP ADX Florence opened on November 30, 1994. Some residents of rural Fremont County, Colorado had welcomed it as a source of employment. The county already had nine prisons, but the lure of 750 to 900 permanent jobs (plus temporary jobs during the prison's construction) led residents 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 by two leading architecture firms in Colorado Springs and cost $60 million to build.
During the 2020 COVID-19 virus outbreak, USP ADX Florence was considered safe due in part to the extreme social distancing already practiced. By January 11, 2021, BOP data shows no active cases among prisoners, but three recovered inmates and 28 active staff infections.
The facility is best known for housing inmates who have been deemed too dangerous, too high-profile, or too great a security risk for a maximum-security prison. For example, Joseph Romano was sentenced to life in federal prison for plotting to murder the judge and federal prosecutor who helped sentence him to 15 years in prison for masterminding a coin fraud operation. While in prison, he plotted to murder an undercover officer who had taken part in the investigation. When this came to light, Romano was transferred to USP ADX Florence.
The majority of current inmates, however, have been placed there because each has an extensive history in other prisons of committing violent crimes, including murder, against corrections officers and fellow inmates. These inmates are kept in administrative segregation. They are confined in a single-person cell for 23 hours a day and are removed under restraint (handcuffed, shackled, or both); their one hour out of their cell may occur at any time of the day or night. The hour outside of the cell is for exercise and a phone call if they have earned the privilege. Their diet is restricted to ensure that the food cannot be used to harm themselves or to create unhygienic conditions in their cell. Some cells have showers which further reduces the amount of handling of inmates that correctional officers have to perform.
After at least one year, depending on their conduct, inmates are gradually allowed out for longer periods. The long-term goal is to keep them at USP ADX Florence for no more than three years and then to transfer them to a less restrictive prison to serve the remainder of their sentences. According to a 1998 report in the San Francisco Chronicle, USP ADX Florence's main purpose is to "try and extract reasonably peaceful behavior from extremely violent career prisoners".
One cell block at Florence is known as "Bombers Row" because four notable terrorists, three of whom are domestic terrorists, are held there: Terry Nichols, Ramzi Yousef, Eric Rudolph, and Ted Kaczynski.
Despite the extreme security measures to deter disruptive, violent, and dangerous behavior among inmates, there has been one murder at ADX. Silvestre Rivera and Richard Santiago were both charged with the first degree murder of Manuel Torrez, a high level member of the Mexican Mafia. Left alone with no guard supervision in the prison yard on the morning of April 21, 2005, Rivera and Santiago were videotaped brutally beating and stomping Torrez to death. Rivera pled not guilty due to self-defense. Prosecutors intended to seek the death penalty against Rivera and Santiago, but they were both given life sentences for the murders. Today, Santiago remains incarcerated at ADX, while Rivera is currently serving his life sentence in USP Hazleton.
In January 2021 a British judge ruled that Julian Assange could not be extradited to the US on the grounds that Assange would likely be housed at ADX where there was a high risk he would commit suicide due to the conditions there.
USP ADX Florence is a 37-acre (15 ha) complex located at 5880 Highway 67, with a Florence, Colorado postal address, about 100 miles (160 km) south of Denver and 40 miles (64 km) south of Colorado Springs. It is part of the Federal Correctional Complex, Florence (FCC Florence) which consists of three correctional facilities, each with a different security rating.
The majority of the facility is above ground, with the exception of a subterranean corridor which links cellblocks to the lobby. Each cell has a desk, stool, and 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 that can be shut off only remotely, a radio, and a television that shows recreational, educational, and religious programming.
The 4-inch-by-4-foot (10 cm × 1.2 m) windows are designed to prevent inmates from knowing their specific location within the complex. They can see only the sky and roof through them, so it is 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. The pit is large enough only for a prisoner to walk 10 steps in a straight line or 31 steps in a circle. Correctional officers generally deliver food to the cells. Inmates transferred to USP ADX Florence 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, cameras, and 1,400 remote-controlled steel doors. Officers in the prison's control center monitor inmates 24 hours a day and can activate a "panic button", which closes every door in the facility, should an escape attempt be suspected. Pressure pads and 12-foot tall (3.7 m) razor wire fences surround the perimeter, which is patrolled by heavily armed officers.
The Bureau of Prisons allowed the media to take a guided tour of USP ADX Florence 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. The 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."
The prison has received far less criticism than comparable facilities at the state level, which tend to suffer from over-population, low staff-to-inmate ratios, and security issues. 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, eleven inmates filed a federal class-action suit against the Bureau of Prisons in Cunningham v. Federal Bureau of Prisons. The suit alleged chronic abuse and failure to properly diagnose prisoners who are seriously mentally ill. At the time of the lawsuit, at least six inmates had allegedly died by suicide (a seventh did after the original lawsuit was filed, and an amended filing added him to the case.) That number may be underestimated because suicide attempts are common, and many succeed.
Critics claim the use of extended confinement in solitary cells adversely affects prisoners' mental health; numerous studies support this conclusion. As of March 2015,[update] settlement negotiations were underway with the help of a federal magistrate. Some changes have already been made by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
Prisoners held in Unit H are subject to Special Administrative Measures which prevent them from communicating with journalists, and from communicating privately with their own lawyers or family members.
In 2020, a British magistrate refused to extradite Julian Assange to the United States on espionage charges in part because he would possibly be subjected to solitary confinement and Special Administrative Measures at ADX. On July 7, 2021 the British High Court agreed to allow the U.S. to appeal this decision with the understanding that Assange "will not be subject to SAMs or imprisoned at ADX" if he is extradited.
Suicides at the prison
At least eight inmates have died or are suspected of dying by suicide at the facility.
|Inmate||Register number||Date of death||Age||Ref|
|Kevin Lee Wilson||57468-097||June 17, 1999||37|
|Gregory Britt||12546-083||December 9, 1999||43|
|Lawrence Klaker||N/A||November 18, 2002||45|
|Lance Vanderstappen||11099-081||April 17, 2006||26|
|John Frierson||99917-555||May 27, 2008||35|
|Jose Martin Vega||45189-053||May 1, 2010||35|||
|Robert Gerald Knott||17508-086||September 7, 2013||48|||
|Jamie Jarold McMahan||05327-030||November 13, 2017||42|||
Notable current inmates
This list contains foreign citizens who committed or attempted to commit terrorist attacks against United States citizens and interests. All sentences are without parole.
|Inmate name||Register number||Photo||Status||Details|
|Zacarias Moussaoui||51427-054||Serving 6 life sentences.||French citizen and Al-Qaeda operative, 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.|
|Ramzi Yousef||03911-000||Serving life plus 240 years.||Convicted in 1994 of terrorism conspiracy and other charges in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed 6 people and injured more than 1,000. 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 from Lebanon, Tanzania, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia; 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 more than 4,000.|
|Abu Hamza al-Masri||67495-054||Serving a life sentence under the name Kamel Mostafa Mostafa.||Egyptian cleric and former associate of the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden; extradited from the UK in 2012; convicted in 2014 of masterminding the 1998 kidnapping of Westerners in Yemen and conspiring to establish a terrorist training camp in Oregon in 1999.|
|Richard Reid||24079-038||Serving 3 life sentences plus 110 years.||British national who became an Al-Qaeda operative; pleaded guilty in 2002 to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction 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 4 life sentences plus 50 years.||A Nigerian national and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operative, 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 blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. He was nicknamed the "Underwear Bomber" as the bomb was sewn into his underwear.|
|Ahmed Ressam||29638-086||Serving a 37-year sentence; scheduled for release on July 1, 2032.||Algerian national 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.|
|Simón Trinidad||27896-016||Serving a 60-year sentence under the name Juvenal Ovidio Palmera Pineda; scheduled for release on February 17, 2055.||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.|
|Sulaiman Abu Ghaith||91969-054||Serving a life sentence.||Al-Qaeda spokesman and son-in-law to Osama Bin Laden. Convicted in March 2014 for conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists.|
|Mamdouh Mahmud Salim||42426-054||Serving a life sentence.||Al-Qaeda co-founder and advisor to Osama Bin Laden. Extradited in 1998 for participating in the U.S. Embassy bombings and sentenced to life in prison for attempted murder during an escape attempt in 2000.|
|Shain Duka||61284-066||Serving life plus 30 years.||Convicted in 2008 for conspiring to kill members of the Army at the Fort Dix, New Jersey, army base. His two brothers were also convicted: Eljvir Duka, who is being held at USP Hazelton and Dritan Duka, who is being held at FCI Terre Haute.|
|Mahmud Abouhalima||28064-054||Serving a 240-year sentence (shortened to 1300 months); scheduled for release in 2060.||Egyptian terrorist who was one of the men convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1988 he traveled to Afghanistan to receive combat training. He also assisted El Sayyid Nosair in the assassination of far-right rabbi Meir Kahane, acting as the getaway driver.|
|Mohammed Jabarah||06909-091||Serving a life sentence.||Canadian citizen convicted of plotting to bomb U.S. embassies in Singapore and the Philippines, he was turned over to U.S. authorities after agreeing to assist them with terror investigations. He was sentenced to life in federal prison in 2008 as a result of violating the terms of his release.|
|Amor Ftouhi||55707-039||Serving a life sentence||Perpetrator of the Bishop International Airport attack in Flint, Michigan in 2017, during which he stabbed an Airport Police Lieutenant in the neck; convicted in 2018 of committing an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries.|
|Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy||75868-054||Serving a 40-year sentence; scheduled for release in March 18, 2051.||Plotted to carry out bombing attacks at Times Square and New York City subway. Convicted of material support and conspiracy to commit terror acts transcending national boundaries in 2016 and sentenced to 40 years in federal prison in 2018. El Bahnasawy was sent to ADX after he committed the stabbing of corrections officer Dale Franquet Jr at United States Penitentiary, Allenwood on December 7, 2020. Franquet lost an eye in the attack.|
This list contains U.S. citizens, regardless of origin, who committed or attempted to commit terrorist attacks against United States citizens and interests.
|Inmate name||Register number||Photo||Status||Details|
|Dzhokhar Tsarnaev||95079-038||Originally sentenced to death on June 24, 2015; sentence overturned by a federal appeals court on July 31, 2020. New penalty-phase trial planned.||Dzhokhar planted a pressure cooker bomb at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing 3 people and injuring over 250. He was sentenced to death. He was to be transferred to USP Terre Haute in Indiana when his execution date was set, but the death sentence was vacated in July 2020 due to inadequate screening for potential biases among jury pool.|
|Theodore Kaczynski||04475-046||Serving 8 life sentences.||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 targeting those involved with modern technology, which killed 3 people and injured 23 others.|
|Terry Nichols||08157-031||Serving 161 consecutive life sentences.||Co-conspirator in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people. Timothy McVeigh, who planned and carried out the bombing, was executed in 2001.|
|José Padilla||20796-424||Serving a 21-year sentence; scheduled for release on April 10, 2026.||Al-Qaeda operative and one of the first U.S. citizens to be designated as an enemy combatant after the September 11th attacks; convicted in 2007 of terrorism conspiracy for traveling overseas to attend an Al-Qaeda training camp and providing material support to terrorists.|
|Eric Rudolph||18282-058||Serving 4 consecutive life sentences.||Member of the Christian 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; he killed 3 people during the bombing spree.|
|Faisal Shahzad||63510-054||Serving a life sentence.||Tehrik-i-Taliban operative; 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 2 life sentences plus 60 years.||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 in 2011 at a restaurant near Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, when it was filled with soldiers.|
|Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh||85795-053||Serving a 45-year sentence; scheduled for release on August 5, 2053.||Houston man who was convicted of terrorism-related charges in 2017 after he attended an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. He was charged with material support of terrorism for a planning role in a 2009 attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost. He had reportedly been radicalized by Zarein Ahmedzay, one of the men charged with the 2009 New York City subway bombing plot.|
|Inmate name||Register number||Photo||Status||Details|
|Noshir Gowadia||95518-022||Serving a 32-year sentence; scheduled for release on January 31, 2033.||Former engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense and one of the principal designers of the B-2 stealth bomber; convicted in 2011 of using classified information to assist the People's Republic of China in producing cruise missiles with stealth technology.|
|Robert Hanssen||48551-083||Serving 15 consecutive life sentences.||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. This was regarded at the time as the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history. He betrayed dozens of undercover U.S. intelligence agents, several of whom were executed as a direct result of his actions.|
|Walter Myers||29796-016||Serving a life sentence.||Former intelligence analyst for the U.S. State Department; pleaded guilty in 2009 to conspiracy to commit espionage for providing classified U.S. national defense information to Cuba over a period of 30 years. His wife, Gwendolyn Myers, was sentenced to 6 years.|
|Harold Nicholson||49535-083||Serving a 23-year sentence; scheduled for release on November 26, 2023.||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.|
Organized crime figures
|Inmate name||Register number||Photo||Status||Details|
|James Marcello||99076-012||Serving a life sentence.||"Front Boss" of the Chicago Outfit; convicted of racketeering, conspiracy for participating in 18 murders, and directing criminal activities including extortion, illegal gambling, loan sharking, and bribery.|
|Luis Felipe||14067-074||Serving life plus 45 years.||Leader of the New York chapter of the Latin Kings gang; convicted in 1996 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."|
|Tyler Bingham||03325-091||Serving a life sentence.||Aryan Brotherhood prison gang founder; was 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 inmates at USP Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.|
|Larry Hoover||86063-024||Serving 6 life sentences.||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 a 68-year sentence; scheduled for release on October 14, 2044.||Founder of the El-Rukn (Black P. Stones) gang in Chicago; convicted of drug trafficking 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.|
|Kaboni Savage||58232-066||Sentenced to death on June 3, 2013; awaiting execution.||Philadelphia drug kingpin; convicted in 2013 of 12 counts of murder in aid of racketeering for ordering six drug-related homicides, as well as fire bombing the home of a federal witness, which killed two adults and four children. He will be transferred to United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute in Indiana when an execution date is set.|
|Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán||89914-053||Serving life plus 30 years.||Former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. Guzmán was extradited from Mexico to the United States in January 2017, where he pleaded not guilty to all counts in Brooklyn, New York. His charges included drug trafficking, money laundering, and murder. His defense asserted that he was not the organized crime leader that the prosecution claimed. The trial, often characterized as a trial of the century, began on November 5, 2018, and lasted until February 12, 2019, when the jury found him guilty of all counts. He was sentenced on July 17, 2019, to life imprisonment without parole.|
|Ronald Herron "Ra Diggs"||78527-053||Sentenced to 12 life sentences plus 105 years.||One-time Brooklyn rapper, Ronald Herron AKA Ra Diggs was tried and convicted in 2014 for 21 counts, including three murders, racketeering and drug trafficking in connection to running a violent drug gang in New York.|
|Perry Roark||53975-037||Serving a life sentence.||One of the founders of the Dead Man Incorporated prison gang. In 2013, Roark pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy, murder and trafficking charges related to running the gang alongside members Bryan Jordan and James Sweeney. Roark and Sweeney were subsequently sentenced to life in prison. Both Sweeney and Roark were serving their life terms at ADX Florence until Roark was transferred to Florence High in 2019. As of November 2020,[update] Roark is back at ADX.|
|Inmate name||Register number||Photo||Status||Details|
|Richard McNair||13829-045||Serving 2 life sentences on a state murder charge from North Dakota in 1987.||Held at ADX due to multiple prison escapes; escaped from the Ward County Jail in Minot, North Dakota in 1987, from the North Dakota State Penitentiary in Bismarck in 1992, and from USP Pollock in Louisiana in 2006.|
|Dwight York||17911-054||Serving a 135-year sentence; scheduled for release on July 12, 2120.||Founder and leader of the Nuwaubian Nation, a black supremacist cult. Convicted in 2004 of child molestation, racketeering and conspiracy, and fraud.|
|Jessie Con-ui||04287-748||Serving a life sentence.||Already jailed for life for slaying a gang rival in Arizona, Con-ui was identified as the suspect in the murder of corrections officer Eric Williams at United States Penitentiary, Canaan.|
|Michael Swango||08352-424||Serving 3 consecutive life sentences.||Physician and serial killer; pleaded guilty in 2000 to fatally poisoning four patients; has been linked to scores of other deaths. Sent to ADX at his own request due to safety concerns.|
|Paul Bergrin||16235-050||Serving a life sentence.||Attorney convicted of conspiracy to murder a witness and racketeering, cocaine, and prostitution offenses.|
|Dominick Maldonado||02071-122||Serving a 163-year state sentence.||Perpetrator of the 2005 Tacoma Mall shooting. Injured six in the mall before committing four armed kidnappings. Transferred to ADX by the state of Washington due to safety and security concerns.|
- List of U.S. federal prisons
- Federal Medical Center, Carswell, contains an Administrative Unit which is the equivalent to the ADX for federal female inmates. It also houses female federal inmates sentenced to death.
- Special Handling Unit, a supermax prison operated by Corrections Canada
- List of former inmates at USP Florence ADMAX
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