In 1899, President William McKinley authorized the construction of a new federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia. Construction was completed in January 1902 and the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary opened with the transfer of six convicts from the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in upstate New York. They were the beneficiaries of the Three Prisons Act of 1891, which established penitentiaries in Leavenworth, Kansas; Atlanta, Georgia; and McNeil Island, Washington. The first two remain open today, the third closed in 1976. The Atlanta site was the largest Federal prison, with a capacity of 3,000 inmates. Inmate case files presented mini-biographies of men confined in the penitentiary. Prison officials recorded every detail of their lives - their medical treatments, their visitors, their letters to and from the outside world
In the 1980s, USP Atlanta was used as a detention center for Cubanrefugees from the Mariel Boatlift who were ineligible for release into American society.
USP Atlanta is currently one of several facilities, including the Federal Transfer Center, Oklahoma City that are used to house prisoners who are being transferred between prisons. As of 2006, the prison was housing 3 to 5 in-transit prisoners in each approximately 56-square-foot (5.2 m2) isolation cell for up to eight weeks at a time.
In November 1987, Cuban detainees, tired of indefinite confinement and in constant fear of being deported back to Cuba, rioted for 11 days, staged a bloody riot, seizing dozens of hostages and setting fire to the prison. At least one prisoner was killed. Local hospitals reported admitting a total of eight Cubans suffering gunshot wounds, along with two prison guards who were slightly injured.
Transferred to the federal prison on Alcatraz Island in 1934; at USP Atlanta from 1956 to 1959.
Originally in prison for robbery and truck hijacking, Bulger would become boss of the Winter Hill gang, being involved in at least 19 murders. Currently serving two life sentences plus five years at USP Coleman.
Louisiana General contractor who supervised the construction of 26 public buildings; convicted in 1940 of tax evasion and accepting kickbacks in connection with the Louisiana Hayride scandals in 1939 and 1940.