United States Penitentiary, Canaan

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United States Penitentiary, Canaan
LocationCanaan Township, Wayne County,
near Waymart, Pennsylvania
Security classHigh-security (with minimum-security prison camp)
Population1,226 inmates (63 in prison camp)
Managed byFederal Bureau of Prisons
WardenCharles Maiorana

The United States Penitentiary, Canaan (USP Canaan) is a high-security United States federal prison for male inmates, with a satellite prison camp for minimum-security male inmates. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.

USP Canaan is located in Canaan Township, Wayne County,[1] northeastern Pennsylvania, 20 miles (32 km) east of Scranton and 134 miles (216 km) north of Philadelphia.[2]

History and facility[edit]

USP Canaan is a 170,000-square-yard (140,000 m2) facility designed by David R. Cassara Associates, Structural Engineering and Consulting of Rochester, New York for $141 million.[3] USP Canaan opened in March 2005 and is designed to house 1088 male inmates in six housing units. Six V-shaped buildings facing each other and a larger maintenance building surround a central yard with a tower in the middle. Six additional towers are lined along the rectangular-shaped facility. The facility is surrounded by a lethal electrical double fence.

Cells are approximately 4 m × 2 m (13.1 ft × 6.6 ft) in size, equipped with a bunkbed, a stainless steel sink-toilet combination, and a small table with a non-removable stool. Cells are usually occupied by two inmates and are air conditioned. The administrative and disciplinary unit, called the Special Housing Unit, can hold approximately 250 inmates. Cells in the disciplinary unit have showers and are occupied by two inmates.

Units A1 & A2, closest to the dining area and the Receiving & Discharge area, are primarily used for inmates in transit. One unit houses Minimum and Low security inmates in transit and the other housing Medium and Maximum security inmates. Administrative Maximum custody inmates are generally housed in the SHU during transit. These units have also been used when the USP Canaan SHU is filled beyond capacity. Inmates will then be locked in a cell without a shower and only be able to shower three times weekly.

Inmate transit usually occurs at least twice a week to and from USP Canaan with Monday being the “airlift” day where inmates are brought to the Harrisburg airport by bus for secure transit to another prison. The trips to the next prison occur either by another bus trip or a flight on what is often called “Con Air” (operated by US Marshals Justice Prisoner & Alien Transportation System or JPATS). Tuesday is generally the transit day for inmates going to or from MDC Brooklyn and MCC Manhattan (when it was open).

Notable incidents[edit]

Four inmate murders have taken place at USP Canaan since its opening in 2005.

  • On 25 April 2010, Allen Hurley, an inmate serving a 37-year sentence for multiple armed robberies, became involved in a physical altercation with Joseph O'Kane while they were both in Hurley's cell. Hurley pulled out a homemade prison knife known as a shank, and stabbed O'Kane 92 times. O'Kane, an associate of the Gambino Crime Family in New York City who was serving a life sentence for racketeering and murder, died at the scene. Hurley was convicted of manslaughter on 21 June 2012 and was sentenced to life in prison in September 2012.[4][5][6] Now at ADX Florence
  • On 23 August 2010, inmate Jose Antonio Perez, the leader of a major drug trafficking ring in Hartford, Connecticut, died of a single stab wound to the neck. Perez was serving a life sentence for drug trafficking and murder for hire in connection with the 2002 shooting death of Theodore Casiano, the leader of a rival drug trafficking organization.[7][8] Perez's murder remains under investigation.
  • On 11 January 2013, inmate Ephraim Goitom was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour after a fight. Goitom had been serving a 25-year sentence for shooting a police officer during a raid on Goitom's home.
  • On 25 February 2013, an inmate of the prison attacked and murdered Correction Officer Eric Williams, 34, of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.[9] Jessie Con-ui, already jailed for life for slaying a gang rival in Arizona, was identified as the suspect in the murder of officer Eric Williams. Con-ui and two other gang members fatally shot Carlos Garcia outside a laundry facility in East Phoenix, Ariz. in August 2002 to "further or assist" the gang's criminal conduct, according to state prosecutors and Maricopa County, Ariz. court records. Con-ui, 36, was scheduled to complete his federal sentence in September 2013 and would have immediately been returned to Arizona to begin serving his life term for the 2002 murder. Con-ui, at the time of the incident, was serving an 11-year term for gang-related drug trafficking.[10]

Other incidents: In June 2011, 300 inmates and several staff members became ill after eating chicken in the prison dining room. The Pennsylvania State Department of Health was called in to investigate and determined that the cause was salmonella poisoning. The incident constituted one of the largest institutional outbreaks of salmonella poisoning in US history. No one became critically ill.[11]

Notable inmates (current and former)[edit]

Inmate name Register number Status Details
Gregory Abbott 86702-054 Released on January 28, 2020. Charged with connection to the 2019 college admissions bribery scandal.
John Rigas

Timothy Rigas



John Rigas was released in 2016; Timothy was released on January 14, 2022.[12] Father and son executives at Adelphia Communications Corporation; convicted in 2004 of bank fraud and other charges for stealing millions of dollars from the company and concealing its debt from investors to keep its stock price high.[13]
Juan Matta-Ballesteros 37671-133 Serving a life sentence under the name Juan Ramon Matta-Lopez.[14] Transferred to USMCFP Springfield. Drug kingpin with ties to the Medellin Cartel in Colombia; convicted in 1990 of orchestrating the 1985 kidnapping and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique Camarena.[15][16]
Abdul Kadir 64656-053 Serving a life sentence.[17] Al-Qaeda supporter; convicted of terrorism conspiracy for his role in a foiled plot to bomb John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens, New York in 2007; three co-conspirators are serving sentences at other federal facilities.[18][19]
Chhun Yasith 31900-112 Serving a life sentence.[20] US citizen and President of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters; convicted in 2008 of leading a series of deadly attacks against civilian and government targets in an attempt to oust Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2000.[21][22]
Mohammad Shibin 78207-083 Now at FCI Butner Somali pirate leader; convicted in 2012 of piracy, kidnapping, and hostage-taking for acting as a ransom negotiator during the hijacking of the civilian vessel Quest in 2010 and the oil tanker Miranda Marguerite in 2011; Shibin is the highest-ranking pirate ever prosecuted.[23][24]
Steven Crea 48635-066 Serving a life sentence Convicted in 2019 for murder, and racketeering
Luke Sommer 38474-086 Now at USP Coleman Former US Army Ranger; pleaded guilty to bank robbery in 2008 for masterminding the takeover robbery of a bank in Tacoma, Washington; pleaded guilty in 2010 to attempting to solicit the murder of an Assistant United States Attorney.[25][26][27]
Timothy L. Tyler 99672-012 Transferred to Federal Correctional Institution, Jesup, released on 8/30/2018 An American who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for possession and distribution of LSD (or "acid") under the federal three-strikes law. In August 2016, after serving 24 years and 27 days behind bars, Tyler was granted clemency by President Barack Obama.
Benjamín Arellano Félix 00678-748 Serving a 15 year sentence and is scheduled for release on 8/28/2033 Former kingpin of the Tijuana Cartel, sentenced to 25 years for racketeering and conspiracy to launder money.[28]
Paul Manafort 35207-016 Pardoned by President Donald Trump in 2020 An American political consultant and former campaign chairman for US president Donald Trump, Manafort was found guilty of tax fraud, bank fraud and witness tampering.
Ronell Wilson 71460-053 Serving a life sentence Gang leader in Staten Island, New York; murdered NYPD Detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews, who were conducting a sting operation to buy an illegal gun in 2003. Wilson was initially on death row before having his sentence reduced to life without parole on the grounds of that he was mentally disabled.[29][30]
Alexanda Amon Kotey 11685-509 Serving a life sentence One of the four members of the British "ISIS Beatles" and also known as "Jihadi George". Kotey was convicted of hostage taking and providing material support to a terror organization for his role in the kidnapping, torture, and murders of dozens European and American citizens between 2012 and 2015. Kotey was convicted of beheading and torturing four Americans in 2021 and sentenced to life in prison. Another member of the "ISIS Beatles", El Shafee Elsheikh, was also tried and convicted and received a life sentence.[31][32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2020 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP: Canaan township, PA" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 12 August 2022. United States Penitentiary Canaan
  2. ^ "USP Canaan". Bop.gov. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  3. ^ "DRC Associates Structural Engineering in Rochester NY". Drc-associates.com. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
  4. ^ Steve McConnell (19 June 2012). "Inmate's trial in prison-cell stabbing death of mobster begins - News". The Times-Tribune. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  5. ^ "FBI – Man Convicted of Manslaughter for the Killing of a Fellow Inmate at USP Canaan". Fbi.gov. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Man Sentenced To Life Imprisonment for the Killing of a Fellow Inmate at Federal Prison". US Department of Justice. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  7. ^ "Inmate in Hartford Gang Murder Fatally Stabbed in Federal Prison « CBS Connecticut". Connecticut.cbslocal.com. 1 September 2010. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  8. ^ Steve McConnell (1 September 2010). "Officials confirm inmate's stabbing death at Canaan - News". The Times-Tribune. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Guard Killed by Inmate at Federal Prison in Wayne Co". PAHomepage. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013.
  10. ^ Sisak, Michael (12 March 2013). "Crisis at Canaan: Suspect in prison guard's murder identified". Citizen's Voice. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Pennsylvania prison salmonella outbreak sickened 300". syracuse.com. 15 July 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  12. ^ "Official John Rigas Website". Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  13. ^ Roben Farzad (21 June 2005). "Jail Terms for 2 at Top of Adelphia". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  14. ^ Sisak, Michael R.; Kalinowski, Bob (19 December 2013). "Free to kill: Canaan inmate had freedom inside prison". The Citizens' Voice. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  15. ^ Weinstein, Henry (7 September 1989). "Major Drug Ring Leader Is Convicted". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ Lee, John H. (9 May 1991). "Camarena Figure Gets 3 Life Terms : Drugs: Honduran Juan Matta Ballesteros has received two other lengthy sentences for his role in the DEA agent's murder". Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ Kalinowski, Bob (10 March 2013). "A look inside the federal penitentiary where an inmate murdered a correctional officer". Pottsville Republican, Inc. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  18. ^ "The Wall Street Journal".
  19. ^ "Daily News". New York.
  20. ^ Piore, Adam (April 2012). "The Accidental Terrorist". the Atavist Magazine. Atavist Inc. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  21. ^ Tran, My-Thuan (23 June 2010). "Former refugee gets life term over failed Cambodian coup". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  22. ^ "Services in the Prosecution of a Deadly Plot to Overthrow the Cambodian Government | USAO | Department of Justice". Justice.gov. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  23. ^ "Somali pirates face hard time in US prison". BBC News. 3 October 2011.
  24. ^ [1] Archived 15 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Carter, Mike (13 December 2008). "Former Army Ranger gets 24 years in prison for bank robbery". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  26. ^ Ramonas, Andrew (8 March 2010). "Former Army Ranger Sentenced For Plan To Kill Federal Prosecutor in Washington State". Main Justice (WDC Media). Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  27. ^ "FORMER ARMY RANGER BANK ROBBER PLEADS GUILTY TO ASSAULT AND TRYING TO HIRE A HIT MAN". US Department of Justice. 4 January 2010. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  28. ^ "Last of the Arellano-Felix Brothers Sentenced". US Department of Justice. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  29. ^ Brick, Michael (6 February 2007). "Detectives' Killer Breaks Windows in Jail". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  30. ^ Hays, Tom (24 July 2013). "Ronell Wilson, NY Cop Killer, Gets Death Penalty". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 25 July 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  31. ^ Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche. "US: 'Beatles' jihadi sentenced to life in jail over hostage killings | DW | 29.04.2022". DW.COM. Retrieved 31 August 2022.
  32. ^ "Elshafee El Sheikh: Ex-Briton 'Isis Beatle' sentenced to life in prison". BBC News. 19 August 2022. Retrieved 31 August 2022.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°33′46″N 75°25′17″W / 41.56278°N 75.42139°W / 41.56278; -75.42139