Federal Correctional Institution, Terre Haute

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Federal Correctional Institution, Terre Haute
FCI Terre Haute.jpg
LocationTerre Haute, Vigo County, Indiana
Security classMedium-security (with minimum-security prison camp)
Population1,190 (455 in prison camp)
Managed byFederal Bureau of Prisons

The Federal Correctional Institution, Terre Haute (FCI Terre Haute) is a medium-security United States federal prison for male inmates in Indiana. It is part of the Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute (FCC Terre Haute) and is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. The facility also has an adjacent satellite prison camp for minimum-security male offenders.[1]

FCC Terre Haute is located 2 miles south of the City of Terre Haute and 70 miles west of Indianapolis.

Communication Management Unit[edit]

FCI Terre Haute has a controversial high-security wing known as the Communication Management Unit (CMU) for inmates who were determined to pose a serious threat if their communications were not severely restricted. The CMU at FCI Terre Haute is a 55-cell unit located in the former death row and was opened in December 2006. Prisoners there are under open and covert audio and video surveillance, and all of their phone calls are monitored except for talks with their attorneys. Prisoners are prohibited from touching family members during tightly controlled visits. All telephone calls and mail are monitored, and inmates are required to conduct all conversations in English unless special permission is arranged for conversations in other languages. Without such strong security, the government claims, inmates would be able to conspire with outsiders to commit terrorist or criminal acts. The Federal Bureau of Prisons created the CMU in response to criticism that it had not been adequately monitoring the communications of prisoners. According to the Bureau of Prisons, "By concentrating resources in this fashion, it will greatly enhance the agency's capabilities for language translation, content analysis and intelligence sharing," according to the Bureau's summary of the CMU.[2]

When the CMU at FCI Terre Haute opened, 15 of the first 17 inmates were Muslim. In August 2008, 38 prisoners signed up for Ramadan observances. The disproportionate number of Muslims at the CMU led the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to raise a concern about racial profiling.[3] The ACLU also charged that the communication restrictions were unduly harsh for prisoners who are not sufficiently serious security threats to warrant placement in USP Florence ADX, the federal supermax facility in Colorado.[citation needed] In response, according to civil rights lawyers, the Bureau of Prisons started moving in non-Muslims. The group included tax resisters, a member of the Japanese Red Army and inmates from Colombia and Mexico. Inmates say the guards there called them "balancers." As of 2011, the Bureau of Prisons says a total of 71 men now live in the units.

Most of the inmates are Arab Muslims convicted of terrorism-related offenses. The CMU population has included men convicted in high-profile post-September 11th cases, as well as defendants from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1999 "millennium" plot to bomb the Los Angeles airport, and airline hijacking cases from 1976, 1985 and 1996. Also in the CMUs are men who have threatened officials from behind bars, ordered murders using contraband cellphones, or engaged in other communications that officials deem threatening. The population also includes several black Muslims who have been disciplined for alleged radicalization and recruitment while incarcerated for other crimes at other facilities.[4]

Minimum-security prison camp[edit]

The minimum-security prison camp at FCI Terre Haute was built in 1960 for the purpose of housing non-violent felons to perform farm and maintenance duties. The camp has two, eight, and twelve-person rooms. Programs provided for inmates in this facility include GED, ESL, and drug education classes. Sports, cards, golf, and crafts are all different recreational activities in which the inmates may take part within the camp. A selected group of inmates at the camp take part in a community talk tour called, "Choices," where these inmates visit schools and speak to children that are already involved in meth. The Federal Bureau of Prisons National Bus Center is operated through this camp.[5]

Notable inmates (current and former)[edit]

Domestic terrorists[edit]

  • American citizens who committed or attempted to commit terrorist attacks against United States citizens and interests.
Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Dennis Mahon[6] 30289-424 Serving a 40-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2044. White supremacist; convicted of conspiracy to damage buildings and property by means of explosive in 2012 for sending a mail bomb to the Office of Diversity and Dialogue in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2004, which injured two people.[7]

Foreign terrorists[edit]

  • Foreign citizens who committed or attempted to commit terrorist attacks against United States citizens and interests.
Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Khalid Aldawsari 42771-177 Serving a life sentence. Saudi Arabian citizen and former Texas resident; convicted in 2012 of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction for collecting bomb-making materials and researching possible targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.[8][9]
Wali Khan Amin Shah 42799-054 Detained since 1995; scheduled for release in 2022. Participant in the foiled Bojinka plot.
Hysen Sherifi 51768-056 Serving a life sentence. Member of the Raleigh jihad group; convicted in 2011 of terrorism conspiracy; convicted in 2013 plotting to kill six witnesses who had testified against him at his 2011 trial.[10][11]
Hosam Smadi 39482-177 Serving a 24-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2030. Pleaded guilty in 2010 to the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction for plotting to destroy the 60-story Fountain Place office building in Dallas, Texas with a truck bomb in 2009.[12][13]


Inmate Name Register Number Photo Status Details
Aldrich Ames 40087-083 Aldrich Ames mugshot.jpg Serving a life sentence.[14] Former CIA counterintelligence operative; pleaded guilty in 1994 to espionage for passing classified information to the Soviet Union and later to Russia over a 9-year period; compromised more American spies than anyone in US history prior to Robert Hanssen.[15]
George Ryan 16627-424 Released from custody in July 2013; served 5 years.[16] Governor of Illinois from 1999 to 2003; convicted in 2006 of racketeering and fraud for awarding state contracts, including a $25 million IBM computer deal, to his political allies in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of money and gifts.[17][18]
Stewart Nozette 25004-016 Serving a 13-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2021. Planetary scientist and consultant to NASA and the US Department of Defense; pleaded guilty to attempted espionage for selling classified information to an FBI Agent posing as an Israeli Mossad operative.[19]
James Ford Seale 09193-043 Died in custody in 2011 while serving a life sentence. Former Ku Klux Klan member; convicted in 2007 of conspiracy and kidnapping charges for his role in the 1964 abduction and murder of two 19-year-old African-Americans, Henry Dee and Charles Moore.[20][21][22]
Mufid Abdulqader 32590-177 Serving a 20-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2026. Former Chief Fundraiser for the Holy Land Foundation, once the largest Islamic charity in the US; convicted in 2008 of providing material support for terrorism for funneling money to the terrorist organization Hamas. Four co-conspirators were also sentenced to prison.[23]
Oscar Lopez Rivera 87651-024 Released from custody in May 2017 after President Barack Obama commuted his 70-year sentence.[24] Leader of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (FALN), a Puerto Rican militant group which carried out bombings in Chicago, Washington, DC, Newark, and Miami between 1974 and 1980.[25]
Russell Wasendorf 12191-029 Serving a 50-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2056 Peregrine Financial Group founder; pleaded guilty in 2012 to mail fraud, embezzlement and making false statements for stealing over $100 million from the clients over a 20-year period and falsifying documents to cover up the fraud.[26][27][28]
Shaun Bridges 20436-111 Due to release on 12/13/2022. Former Secret Service Agent arrested for money laundering and obstruction of justice in relation to the Silk Road investigation. Later rearrested for another bitcoin heist and had two years added to his sentencing.[29]
Matthew F. Hale 15177-424 Serving a 40-year sentence, scheduled for release on 30 December 2037 Soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill Judge Joan Lefkow. Was held at USP Florence ADMAX, but was transferred to FCI Terre Haute in 2016.

In popular culture[edit]

FCI Terre Haute was referenced in the film The Blues Brothers by Matt "Guitar" Murphy, who said that the prison served cabbage rolls for dinner.

The song "1st Day Out the Feds" by rapper Gucci Mane is a reference to Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institution, where he served out most of a 3 year 3 month sentence for firearm possession. His radically altered appearance, mannerisms, and demeanor upon exiting the prison in May 2016 led many to speculate that he was subjected to an experimental government program at Terre Haute and possibly even cloned by the Central Intelligence Agency. A spokesperson for the CIA dismissed these theories as mere internet rumors and refused to comment on them.[30]

British drug smuggler Howard Marks was incarcerated in Terre Haute.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FCI Terre Haute". Federal Bureau of Prisons.
  2. ^ Eggen, Dan (February 25, 2007). "Facility Holding Terrorism Inmates Limits Communication". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  3. ^ "Benkahla v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, et al". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  4. ^ Williams, Carrie; Williams, Margot (March 3, 2011). "'Guantanamo North': Inside Secretive U.S. Prisons". NPR. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  5. ^ Steve Eckert, Ph.D.; Jacqueline Cranmer, Psy.D. "Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute, Indiana: Predoctoral Psychology Internship 2013-2014" (PDF). Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  6. ^ https://www.resist.com/pow/index.html
  7. ^ https://www.atf.gov/press/releases/2012/02/022412-pho-federal-jury-finds-dennis-mahon-guilty-in-scottsdale-bombing-case.html
  8. ^ "Texas Resident Convicted on Charge of Attempted Use of Weapon of Mass Destruction | OPA | Department of Justice". Justice.gov. 2012-06-27. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  9. ^ "Saudi man Aldawsari sentenced to life in prison in failed US bomb plot". Fox News. 13 November 2012.
  10. ^ Cratty, Carol (November 8, 2012). "Convicted terrorist guilty of plotting murder-for-hire from behind bars". CNN. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Convicted Terrorist Sentenced to Life in Prison for Plotting to Kill Witnesses in His Terrorism Trial". US Department of Justice. May 13, 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  12. ^ Associated Press (18 October 2010). "Jordanian Man Faces Sentencing in Plot to Blow Up Dallas Skyscraper". Fox News. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Jordanian man sentenced to 24 years in undercover bomb plot". CNN. October 19, 2010. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Spy Files Motion to Alter Guilty Plea". Los Angeles Times. September 15, 1999. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  15. ^ Johnston, David (April 29, 1994). "Spy Voices Shame and Defiance Before Receiving a Life Sentence". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Yaccino, Steven (January 30, 2013). "Then There Was One: An Illinois Ex-Governor Leaves Prison". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  17. ^ Slevin, Peter (September 7, 2006). "Ex-Governor Is Sentenced To Prison". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  18. ^ Associated Press (April 17, 2006). "Jury finds former Ill. gov. Ryan guilty". USA Today. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  19. ^ Washington Post, Maryland scientist Stewart Nozette sentenced for passing secrets to supposed Mossad agent, expresses regret, Mar 12 2012
  20. ^ "Hate Crimes Selected Case Summaries: US v. Seale". US Department of Justice. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  21. ^ "Reputed former Klansman convicted in 1964 kidnappings dies in prison". CNN. August 3, 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  22. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (August 4, 2011). "James Ford Seale, Imprisoned Klansman, Dies at 76". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  23. ^ "Federal Judge Hands Downs Sentences in Holy Land Foundation Case | OPA | Department of Justice". Justice.gov. 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  24. ^ https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/17/528787071/puerto-rican-nationalist-oscar-l-pez-rivera-is-released
  25. ^ Kolb, Ron (December 22, 2010). "The Unrepentant Terrorist". The American Spectator. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  26. ^ "Peregrine Financial Group CEO Pleads Guilty To Fraud, Embezzlement, And Lying To Regulators". US Department of Justice. September 17, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  27. ^ Reuters (2012). "Peregrine CEO Wasendorf pleads guilty in $100 million embezzlement scheme". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  28. ^ Huffstutter, P.J. (January 31, 2013). "Peregrine Financial's Ex-CEO sentenced to 50 years in jail". Fox Business. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  29. ^ Cyrus Farivar (November 7, 2017). "After admitting to new crime, ex-Secret Service agent sentenced to 2 years". Ars Technica. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  30. ^ Miranda, Leticia (June 23, 2016). "This Gucci Mane Conspiracy Theory Is Wild But People Totally Believe It". Buzzfeed. Retrieved July 24, 2016.

Coordinates: 39°24′44″N 87°27′12″W / 39.41222°N 87.45333°W / 39.41222; -87.45333