United States Penitentiary, Florence High

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Coordinates: 38°21′39″N 105°06′09″W / 38.360771°N 105.10242°W / 38.360771; -105.10242

US Penitentiary, Florence High
USP Florence High.jpg
LocationFremont County,
near Florence, Colorado
Security classHigh-security
Managed byFederal Bureau of Prisons
WardenCharles A. Daniels

The United States Penitentiary, Florence High (USP Florence High) is a high-security United States federal prison for male inmates in Colorado. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. USP Florence High is part of the Florence Federal Correctional Complex (FCC Florence), which is situated on 49 acres (20 ha) of land and houses different facilities with varying degrees of security. It is named "Florence High" in order to differentiate it from the United States Penitentiary, Florence ADX, the federal supermax prison located in the same complex.

FCC Florence is located in Fremont County, Colorado, 90 miles (140 km) south of Denver.[1]


USP Florence High was built in 1993 in response to the growing need for a place to house high-security federal inmates. It was designed by DLR Group, a leading architectural firm specializing in correctional facilities. Before the complex was built, the city of Florence was experiencing an economic crisis with an unemployment rate of 17%. When the citizens were polled by mail about building the complex in Florence, 97% of respondents were in favor of the project. It was estimated that the Florence Federal Correctional Complex was going to provide about 1,000 temporary jobs and 900 permanent jobs. In anticipation of these jobs the community raised $160,000 to purchase the 600 acres (240 ha) needed to build the prisons.


USP Florence High houses about 600 male inmates [2] and is about 390,020 square feet (36,234 m2). A perimeter fence, seven guard towers, and a patrol road ensure the security of the prison.[3] The prison includes health services, educational program areas, visitation, laundry, a barbershop, commissary, chapel, Special Housing Unit (SHU), and an exercise area.

Notable incidents[edit]

In 2000, seven federal correctional officers who the union called "The Cowboys" were charged with committing misconduct which occurred between January 1995 and July 1997, which included beating and choking handcuffed inmates, mixing waste into the inmates' food, and threatening other officers who objected to their actions.[4] The case went to trial in 2003 and three of the officers, Mike Lavallee, Rod Schultz and Robert Verbickas, were convicted of violating the civil rights of inmate Pedro Castillo by beating him while he was in restraints. Lavallee and Schultz were also convicted of engaging in a conspiracy to commit civil rights violations.[5] All three were sentenced to prison terms.[6]

On April 20, 2008 a large-scale riot occurred between inmates, during which several inmates were stabbed with homemade knives known as "shanks." Correction officers who were posted on watch towers shot and killed two of the armed inmates.

Notable inmates (current and former)[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Ross Ulbricht 18870-111 Serving 2 life sentences + 40 years without the possibility of parole. Convicted in 2015 for operating Silk Road marketplace web site.
Walli Mujahidh 40738-086 Serving a 17-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2026.[7] Pleaded guilty in 2012 to conspiracy for plotting to attack and murder US officers and recruits at a Military Entrance Processing Station in Seattle, Washington with grenades and machine guns; co-conspirator Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif received 18 years.[8]
Eljvir Duka 61282-066 Serving a life sentence. Planned an attack on a Army Base in Fort Dix, New Jersey, to "kill as many soldiers as possible" in his own words. Sentenced to life imprisonment along with his two brothers and two more co-conspirators.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BOP: USP Florence High". Bop.gov. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  2. ^ "BOP: Weekly Population Report". Bop.gov. Archived from the original on 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  3. ^ Bosworth, Mary (ed.) (2005). Encyclopedia of Prisons and Correctional Facilities, Vol. 2. pp. 1115–1116.
  4. ^ "National News Briefs; Prison Guards Charged In Attacks on Inmates". The New York Times. 2000-11-04.
  5. ^ Boczkiewicz, Robert (2003-06-25). "Three prison guards convicted, 4 acquitted in fed 'Cowboys' trial - Pueblo Chieftain: Metro". Chieftain.com. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  6. ^ Alan Prendergast (2003-06-26). "Cowboy Justice - Page 1 - News - Denver". Westword. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  7. ^ Marzulli, John (August 24, 2015). "EXCLUSIVE: Mobster Vinny Gorgeous rewarded with move from Colorado Supermax". New York Daily News. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Seattle Man Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison for Plot to Attack Seattle Military Processing Center". US Department of Justice. March 25, 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2015.

External links[edit]