United States Penitentiary, Marion

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United States Penitentiary, Marion
LocationSouthern Precinct,[1] Williamson County,
near Marion, Illinois
Coordinates37°39′47″N 88°59′3″W / 37.66306°N 88.98417°W / 37.66306; -88.98417
Security classMedium-security (with minimum-security prison camp)
Population1,406 [1,237 at the USP, 169 in prison camp] (April 2022)
Managed byFederal Bureau of Prisons
WardenDaniel Sproul

The United States Penitentiary, Marion (USP Marion) is a large medium-security United States federal prison for male and female inmates in Southern Precinct,[1] unincorporated Williamson County, Illinois.[2][3] It 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 that houses minimum security male offenders.

USP Marion in Southern Illinois is approximately 9 miles (14 km) south of the city of Marion, Illinois, 300 miles (480 km) south of Chicago, and 120 miles (190 km) southeast of St. Louis, Missouri.[4]



USP Marion was built and opened in 1963 to replace the maximum security federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, which closed the same year.[5] The facility became the first control unit in the United States, when violence forced a long-term lockdown in 1983.

Birth of the "control-unit" prison[edit]

USP Marion was originally constructed to hold 500 of the most dangerous federal inmates, mostly transfers from Alcatraz. Prison administrators aimed to maintain a safe and orderly environment and rehabilitate the inmates while avoiding the high-profile abuses that occurred at Alcatraz. They implemented a behavior modification program named Control and Rehabilitation Effort (CARE) in 1968. Inmates in the program spent most of their time in solitary confinement or in "group therapy" sessions where they were berated for their deviant behavior and urged to change. In 1973, the first blocks of "control unit" cells were created. Inmates assigned to the control-unit would spend 23 to 24 hours a day in one-man cells that were specifically designed to severely limit or eliminate the inmate's contact with other people inside the prison and the outside world.

Notable incidents[edit]

High-profile escape attempts[edit]

The first escape from USP Marion was on July 21, 1971, when Warren George Briggs leapt over two 15 foot fences and escaped to Kansas City, Missouri via Interstate 57. Four days later, Warren turned himself in to the FBI. He reportedly did this so he could draw attention to his invention, a water desalting process that would enable mankind to purify water at a reasonable cost. [6]

On October 10, 1975, five inmates used a homemade electronic device to open the front gates of the prison. One of them had been an electrician and was assigned to work on the lock mechanisms of all of the doors in the main corridors. He also converted a radio into a remote control, with which he opened all of the doors. The five escapees were all eventually captured and returned to prison, the last one being apprehended in Canada on October 31, 1975.

Two escape attempts occurred in 1978 involving the same inmate, Garrett Brock Trapnell. On May 24, 1978, Trapnell's friend, 43-year-old Barbara Ann Oswald, hijacked a St. Louis based charter helicopter and ordered the pilot, Allen Barklage, to fly to USP Marion. Barklage complied, but he wrestled the gun away from Oswald and fatally shot her while he was landing in the prison yard, thwarting the escape. On December 21, 1978, Oswald's 17-year-old daughter, Robin Oswald, hijacked TWA Flight 541, which was en route from Louisville International Airport to Kansas City International Airport and threatened to detonate dynamite strapped to her body if the pilot did not fly to Williamson County Regional Airport, located only miles from USP Marion. When the pilot landed at the airport in Marion, hundreds of law enforcement officers had responded. Robin Oswald surrendered to FBI negotiators at the Williamson airport without incident about ten hours later. The dynamite was later found to be fake.[7][8]

The last escape from the maximum-security prison area was on February 14, 1979, when Lawrence Caldwell, Albert Garza and Howard Zumberge climbed both exterior fences in a dense fog; Caldwell was caught before he could clear the first of the two fences.[9] Both Garza and Zumberge were apprehended three days later near Cypress, hiding in a church basement. During the capture of the escapees, Garza shot Johnson County Sheriff Elry Faulkner in the chest at almost point-blank range; Faulkner was wearing a bulletproof vest, however, and only suffered minor bruises. Garza was shot and wounded, but survived and returned to Marion two months later.[10][11]

Murders of Correction Officers Clutts and Hoffmann[edit]

Correction Officer Merle Clutts
Correction Officer Robert Hoffmann

On October 22, 1983, correctional officers Clutts and Hoffmann were killed in separate incidents only hours apart, both at the hands of members of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white-supremacist prison gang. Officer Clutts was stabbed to death by Thomas Silverstein.[12][13] While walking down a hall accompanied by Clutts, Silverstein was able to turn to the side and approach a particular cell. The prisoner in that cell subsequently unlocked Silverstein's handcuffs with a stolen key and provided him with a knife.[13] Later that same morning, Officer Hoffmann was stabbed to death by Clayton Fountain, after Hoffmann had pulled Fountain off another officer who was being attacked.[14]

Permanent lockdown and the birth of the supermax[edit]

As a result of the murders of Clutts and Hoffmann, USP Marion went into "permanent lockdown" for the next 23 years, which meant that all inmates were locked in their cells for the majority of the day.[15] All of USP Marion was effectively transformed into a "control unit" or supermax, meaning "super-maximum" security, prison. This method of prison construction and operation involves the keeping of inmates in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, and does not allow communal dining, exercising, or religious services. These practices were used to keep prisoners under control and prevent prisoners from assaulting other prisoners or prison staff by severely limiting their contact with other people.[citation needed]

Years later, Norman Carlson, director of the Bureau of Prisons at the time of the Marion incident, said that ordering the permanent lockdown was the only way to deal with "a very small subset of the inmate population who show absolutely no concern for human life." He pointed out that the two inmates who killed the guards were already serving multiple life sentences, so adding another would have had no effect. The "control unit" model at Marion was later the basis for ADX Florence, which opened in 1994 as a specifically designed supermax prison.[16]

Downgraded to medium-security prison[edit]

In 2006, USP Marion's designation was changed to a medium security prison and major renovations were made. The renovations increased Marion's inmate population from 383 to 901.[17]

Communication Management Unit[edit]

Although the facility no longer operates as a "supermax" facility, USP Marion is now home to one of two "Communication Management Units" in the federal prison system. The other is at the Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute, Indiana. The Federal Bureau of Prisons created the Communication Management Unit (CMU) in response to criticism that it had not been adequately monitoring the communications of prisoners. "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.[18][19] In a Democracy Now! interview on June 25, 2009, animal rights activist Andrew Stepanian talked about being jailed at the CMU. Stepanian is believed to be the first prisoner released from a CMU.[20]

Notable inmates (current and former)[edit]

Inmates who were released from custody prior to 1982 are not listed on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.
†† The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 eliminated parole for most federal inmates. Inmates sentenced for offenses committed prior to 1987 are eligible for parole consideration.[21]

Site of 1998 United States embassy bombing in Nairobi
The Brooklyn Bridge was one of the potential targets of the NYC landmark bomb plot

Foreign Terrorists[edit]

Foreign citizens who committed or attempted terrorist attacks against United States citizens and interests.

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Mohammed Saleh
Clement Hampton-El


9999-99-99Saleh: serving a 35-year sentence, scheduled for release in 2024; transferred to FCI Beckley Hampton-el: died in 2014 while serving a 35-year sentence. Al-Qaeda operatives and followers of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman; convicted in 1996 of seditious conspiracy and other charges for their involvement in the foiled NYC landmark bomb plot.[22]
Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-Owhali 42371-054 Serving a life sentence. Transferred to ADX Florence. Al-Qaeda operative; convicted of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, in relation to his role in the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya. Sentenced to life in prison in 2001.[23][24]
Iyman Faris 46680-083 Served a 20-year sentence; released on August 18 2020. Al-Qaeda operative; pleaded guilty in 2003 to terrorism conspiracy for researching potential targets, including the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, and obtaining equipment to be used in attacks at the behest of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.[25]
Omar Rezaq 20267-016 Serving a life sentence; eligible for release in 2023.†† Follower of the militant Palestinian leader Abu Nidal and the sole surviving hijacker of EgyptAir Flight 648; 58 people were killed during the 1985 hijacking; Rezaq was convicted of air piracy in 1996.[26]
Abdul Murad 37437-054 Now at USP Terre Haute Al-Qaeda operative; convicted in 1996 of conspiracy in connection with planning Project Bojinka, a foiled plot conceived by senior Al-Qaeda member Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to bomb twelve planes over the Pacific Ocean in a 48-hour period.[27][28]
Dritan Duka 61285-066 Serving life plus 30 years. Transferred to FCI Terre Haute. One of the six men that conspired to attack an Army Base in Fort Dix, New Jersey. His brothers Eljvir Duka and Shain Duka are being held USP Hazelton and ADX Florence, respectively.

Domestic Terrorists[edit]

American citizens who committed or attempted terrorist attacks against United States citizens and interests.

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Francis Schaeffer Cox 16179-006 Now at FCI Terre Haute Leader of the Alaska Peacekeepers Militia; convicted in 2012 of murder conspiracy for plotting the murders of judges and law enforcement agents; two co-defendants were also sentenced to prison.[29][30][31][32]
Michael Finton 17031-026 Now at USP Florence High Follower of the late militant cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki; pleaded guilty in 2011 to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction for plotting to destroy a federal building in Illinois with a truck bomb in 2009.[33][34]
Carlos Almonte 61800-050 Serving a 20-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2027. Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder persons outside the US, and for attempting to join Al Shabaab, a terrorist group based in Somalia; co-conspirator Mohamed Alessa was sentenced to 22 years.[35][36]
Alexis Candelario Santana 34421-069 Serving a life sentence. Convicted in 2013 for the 2009 Sabana Seca massacre
Richard Scutari 34840-080 Now at FCI Mendota Former member of the white supremacist group The Order. Convicted in 1987 of conspiracy, racketeering, and robbery. Sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Cesar Altieri Sayoc 17781-104 Serving a 20-year sentence, scheduled for release on November 10, 2035. Now at FCI Butner Medium II Pleaded guilty to mailing explosive devices to critics of US President Donald Trump. These included leading Democratic Party politicians such as former U.S. President Barack Obama, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One package was addressed only to CNN and sent to its world headquarters.
Kaleb James Cole 13964-579 Serving 7 years. The FBI had sought an Extreme Risk Protection Order against Cole and seized his cache of weapons which included five assault rifles, a shotgun and pistols in October 2019. According to the FBI Cole had also acquired separate parts needed to manufacture untraceable AR-15s. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes told the media they "firmly believe, prevented a massacre". Cole was sentenced for conspiring to threaten Jews, black people and journalists in Washington and two other states.[37][38]

Organized crime figures[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Photo Status Details
John Gotti 18261-053 John Gotti.jpg Died in 2002 while serving a life sentence. Boss of the Gambino Crime Family in New York City from 1985 to 1992; convicted of murder, murder conspiracy, loansharking, illegal gambling, obstruction of justice, bribery, and tax evasion in 1992.
William Daddano, Sr. Unlisted Died in 1975 while serving a 15-year sentence. Top loan shark and enforcer for the Chicago Mafia; convicted in 1964 of conspiracy to commit bank robbery.[39]
Viktor Bout 91641-054 Viktor Bout Extradited to US.jpg Served a 25-year sentence; released in December 2022 in exchange for Brittney Griner. Russian arms dealer; convicted in 2011 of conspiring to kill Americans and supplying anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons to FARC, a Marxist group on the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.[40]
Gerard Ouimette 02519-070 Served sentence in the mid-20th-century Associate of the Patriarca crime family from Providence, Rhode Island
Monzer al-Kassar 61111-054 Serving 30 year sentence. In 2009, sentenced to 30 years in prison for conspiring to sell weapons to Colombian rebels.


Inmate Name Register Number Photo Status Details
Pete Rose 01832-061 Pete Rose Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.jpg Released from custody in 1991 after serving five months at the minimum-security camp. Major League Baseball player and record holder for career hits; convicted of filing false tax returns in 1990.[41]
Michael Rudkin 17133-014 Beaten to death while incarcerated at USP Terre Haute Former correction officer at FCI Danbury in Connecticut; sentenced to prison in 2008 for having sex with an inmate; convicted in 2010 of trying to hire a hitman to kill the inmate, his ex-wife, his ex-wife's boyfriend and a federal agent while incarcerated at USP Coleman in Florida.[42][43]
Christopher Cantwell 00991-509 Serving a 3 year sentence; scheduled for release on December 19, 2022 White Supremacist known as the Crying Nazi, convicted in 2021 for threatening a man if he didn't give him information about a rival group.[44]
Andrew Stepanian 26399-050 Released from custody in 2009 after serving 2 years. Member of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, which aims to shut down an animal testing laboratory run by Huntingdon Life Sciences; convicted of using the Internet to incite violence against company executives.[45]
Garrett Brock Trapnell 72021-158 Deceased; died of natural causes in 1993 while serving a life sentence. Convicted in 1973 of air piracy for hijacking TWA Flight 2 and threatening to ram the plane into the terminal of JFK Airport unless he received a ransom.[46][47]
Matthew F. Hale 15177-424 Serving a 40-year prison term; scheduled for release on April 2, 2037 Neo-Nazi leader of the World Church of the Creator. Convicted in 2005 for soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill federal judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow after she ruled against him in a copyright case and ordered the name of his church to be changed. He was transferred into USP Marion from ADX Florence in July 2020.
Robert Lee Willie 02724-010 Executed in Louisiana on December 28, 1984. Serial killer; pleaded guilty along with Joseph Jesse Vaccaro in 1980 to kidnapping a young couple in Louisiana, repeatedly raping the female victim. The two were also convicted of an unrelated state murder charge. Willie was executed in 1984 and Vaccaro was sentenced to life in prison.
Walter Bond 37096-013 Released April 2021.[48] Sentenced to serve 60 months (five years) in federal prison for use of fire to destroy Sheepskin Factory in 2011. After the fire, Bond posted a message on the Internet taking responsibility for the Sheepskin Factory fire. At the end of that message he used the nickname “ALF Lone Wolf.” In 2011 he was sentenced to another 87 months for additional attacks to be served consecutively.[49]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2020 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP: Southern precinct, IL" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved August 13, 2022.
  2. ^ "2020 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP: Williamson County, IL" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. p. 12 (PDF p. 13/28). Retrieved August 13, 2022. United States Penitentiary Marion
  3. ^ "USP Marion". Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved March 30, 2020. 4500 PRISON ROAD MARION, IL 62959
  4. ^ Federal Bureau of Prisons. "USP Marion". Bop.gov. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
  5. ^ "Control Unit Prisons". University of Massachusetts. Retrieved October 23, 2006.
  6. ^ "Briggs, Warren George, the First Escape from Marion Federal Prison".
  7. ^ Keve, Paul W. (1995). Prisons and the American Conscience . ISBN 9780809320035. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  8. ^ TIM O'NEIL • toneil@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8132 (June 25, 2011). "A Look Back • Airline hijacking at Lambert in 1972 turns bizarre". Stltoday.com. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  9. ^ "United States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Albert Garza, Defendant-appellant.united States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Howard Zumberge, Defendant-appellant.united States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Lawrence Caldwell, Defendant-appellant, 664 F.2d 135 (7th Cir. 1981)".
  10. ^ "Albert Garza, Plaintiff-appellant, v. J.d. Henderson, S.r. Witkowski, George Wilkinson, R.m.carey, and J.j. Clark, Defendants-appellees, 779 F.2d 390 (7th Cor. 1985)". justia.com. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  11. ^ 2003], TIM PETROWICH THE SOUTHERN [Mon May 19. "40 YEARS AT MARION PRISON: ONE OF REGION'S LARGEST EMPLOYERS HAS STORIED PAST". thesouthern.com. Retrieved April 17, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "Merle E. Clutts, Fallen Hero". Bop.gov. October 22, 1983. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
  13. ^ a b "America's Most Dangerous Prisoner?". BBC News. August 10, 2001. Retrieved October 23, 2006.
  14. ^ "Robert L. Hoffman, Fallen Hero". Bop.gov. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
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  16. ^ Taylor, Michael (December 28, 1998). "The Last Worst Place: The isolation at Colorado's ADX prison is brutal. So are the inmates". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
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  18. ^ Washington Post, February 2007 Facility holding terrorism inmates limits communication
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  25. ^ "#589: 10-28-03 IYMAN FARIS SENTENCED FOR PROVIDING MATERIAL SUPPORT TO AL QAEDA". Justice.gov. October 28, 2003. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
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  40. ^ "Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout handed 25-year federal sentence". CNN. April 6, 2012.
  41. ^ Smith, Claire (July 20, 1990). "Rose Sentenced to 5 Months For Filing False Tax Returns". The New York Times.
  42. ^ "Jury Finds Former Federal Correctional Officer, Now an Inmate, Guilty of Attempts to Kill Federal Agent and Informant". FBI Jacksonville Division. April 28, 2010. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  43. ^ Hudak, Stephen (July 18, 2010). "Former federal corrections officer gets 90 years in prison for trying to arrange murders behind bars". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  44. ^ "Court questioning financial responsibility of transporting Cantwell for rally trial".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  45. ^ Kocieniewski, David (March 3, 2006). "Six Animal Rights Advocates Are Convicted of Terrorism". The New York Times.
  46. ^ "495 F.2d 22". Archived from the original on May 14, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
  47. ^ Killen, Andreas (January 16, 2005). "The First Hijackers". The New York Times.
  48. ^ "Walter Bond Sentenced to Federal Prison for the Arson at the Sheepskin Factory in Glendale".
  49. ^ "Arson, Cracked Testicles, and Internet Death Threats: How Animal Rights Extremists Are Learning from the People Who Murdered George Tiller".

External links[edit]