United States Penitentiary, Hazelton

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US Penitentiary, Hazelton
USP Hazelton.jpg
Location Preston County, West Virginia
Status Operational
Population 1,500 (150 in minimum-security prison camp; 700 in Secure Female Facility)
Opened 2004 (Secure Female Facility opened in 2006)
Managed by Federal Bureau of Prisons
Warden Joe Coakley

The United States Penitentiary, Hazelton (USP Hazelton) is a high-security United States federal prison for male inmates in West Virginia. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. The facility has a satellite prison camp for minimum-security male offenders.

The facility is located in Preston County, West Virginia, several miles east of Bruceton Mills.[1]


USP Hazelton was built due to an increasing need for modern facilities to house the growing number of federal inmates. The high security facility and the satellite minimum security prison camp cost $129 million to build and takes up 996 acres, and were designed by KZF Architectural Firm.

The 650,000-square-foot high-security facility, completed in 2004, contains six two-story buildings with 768 general housing cells and 120 "special housing cells" where especially dangerous prisoners are housed. In addition, there are several one- and two-story buildings which house various prison programs, as well as a factory where prisoners work. It is surrounded by a triple security fence with a taut wire system, and six guard towers around the perimeter.

The 27,000-square-foot minimum security Federal Prison Camp, also completed in 2004, is located outside the high security perimeter of the high-security facility. It consists of living units and prison program facilities and has a capacity of 128 inmates.

The 250,000-square-foot Secure Female Facility was completed in 2006 at a cost of $69 million. It contains two housing buildings which have a capacity of 512 inmates, as well as several program buildings which surround a courtyard area.[2]

Notable incidents[edit]

On October 7, 2007, inmate Jesse Harris was murdered at USP Hazelton. A long and complex investigation led to an October 2, 2012 indictment charging inmates Patrick Andrews and Kevin Bellinger with second-degree murder. Since both inmates were already serving life sentences, Andrews for two separate homicides in 1997 and 2000 and Bellinger for an attempted murder in 2007, they were also charged with murder by a federal prisoner serving a life sentence.[3][4] William J. Ihlenfeld, II, the US Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, announced that the Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against Andrews if he is convicted.[5]

On December 6, 2009, inmate Jimmy Lee Wilson was killed during a fight involving at least five other inmates. Five other inmates were injured during the fight, which was reportedly racially motivated, were transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The facility was placed on lockdown and remained on lockdown for over a month after the incident until prison officials were reasonably certain that there were no further threats to the safety of staff and inmates. Wilson, 25, was serving an 11-year sentence for an armed robbery in Maine.[6][7] Wilson's killing remains under investigation.

In January 2012, USP Hazelton inmate Gerrod Thompson pleaded guilty to escape. Thompson, who was serving a 120-month sentence at the minimum-security prison camp, admitted that he commandeered a Bureau of Prisons truck on February 12, 2011 and drove it out of the camp to visit his wife. Thompson was apprehended later that day. He was sentenced to three additional months of incarceration.[8]

Notable Inmates (current and former)[edit]

Main Facility[edit]

Bradley Register Number Photo Status Details

Minimum-Security Camp[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Photo Status Details
Richie Farmer 16226-032 Released from custody in 2015; served a 27-month sentence. Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner from 2004 to 2012 and standout basketball player for the University of Kentucky; pleaded guilty in 2013 to corruption charges for using state funds for personal expenses.[9][10][11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "USP Hazelton". Federal Bureau of Prisons. 
  2. ^ "Expression of Interest: Architect/Engineering Services Regional Jail & Correctional Authority, West Virginia" (PDF). KZF Design. December 9, 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Federal Prisoners Charged for Murder of Cellmate". Federal Bureau of Investigation. October 3, 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Federal Prisoners Charged for Murder of Cell Mate". WDTV. October 3, 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Harvey, Matt (May 1, 2013). "Defense asks court to dismiss death penalty notice, cites funding". The Exponent-Telegram. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Associated Press (January 6, 2010). "Lockdown continues after Maine man dies in prison fight". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (2009). "Investigation WV Inmate's Stabbing Death". WHSV. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "Federal Inmate Enters Plea and is Sentenced in Federal Court". Federal Bureau of Investigation. January 25, 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Richie Farmer faces prison time". Associated Press. Sep 13, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Plea deal could land Farmer in prison for 2 years". The Independent. 5 September 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "Richie Farmer reports to prison". WDRB. Mar 25, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Richie Farmer Released To Lexington Halfway House". WLEX. December 18, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°40′21″N 79°29′54″W / 39.67250°N 79.49833°W / 39.67250; -79.49833