United States Penitentiary, Tucson

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United States Penitentiary, Tucson
USP Tucson.jpg
LocationTucson, Arizona
Coordinates32°04′53″N 110°51′29″W / 32.08139°N 110.85806°W / 32.08139; -110.85806Coordinates: 32°04′53″N 110°51′29″W / 32.08139°N 110.85806°W / 32.08139; -110.85806
Security classHigh-security (with minimum-security prison camp)
Population1,580 (136 in prison camp)
Managed byFederal Bureau of Prisons

The United States Penitentiary, Tucson (USP Tucson) is a high-security United States federal prison for male inmates in Arizona. It is part of the Tucson Federal Correctional Complex (FCC Tucson) and is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. The facility also has a satellite prison camp for minimum-security male offenders.

USP Tucson is located within Tucson's city limits, 10 miles southeast of downtown Tucson.[2]


The Federal Bureau of Prisons drafted a report on March 28, 2001 naming Tucson as an ideal site for a new federal prison housing either 1,100 medium security or 1,000 high security inmates. A hearing was arranged the following May.[3]

Construction was completed in 2005 at a cost of about $100 million, but additional preparations took over a year before inmates could be received. The 584,000-square-foot (54,300 m2) facility is situated on a 640-acre (2.6 km2) property and designed for 1,500 inmates, though officials had at one time planned to limit the population to around 960. The minimum-security work camp provides labor for day-to-day operations of the federal prison complex. It has been described as "its own little city" by Josias Salazar, executive assistant of the prison complex. The opening of the penitentiary on February 5, 2007 worsened a local shortage of prison officers and was cited by residents for adding to the street traffic generated by the various prison facilities.[1][4]

Sex Offender Management Program[edit]

USP Tucson is one of several federal prisons which offers a Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) and therefore has a higher proportion of sex offenders in its general population. Having a larger number of sex offenders at SOMP facilities ensures that inmates feel safe about participating in treatment. USP Tucson offers a Non-Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-NR), which is a moderate intensity program designed for low to moderate risk sexual offenders. Many of the inmates in the SOTP-NR are first-time offenders serving a sentence for an Internet sex crime. All SOMP institutions offer the SOTP-NR. Eligible inmates are transferred to a SOMP facility based on their treatment needs and security level. USP Tucson houses several high-profile sex offenders.[5]

Notable incidents[edit]

The penitentiary went into lockdown on May 28, 2009 after several inmates were hospitalized from fights involving improvised weapons.[6] Another inmate, Joseph William Nichols, was sentenced to 33 more months after being caught on August 12, 2009 with a concealed plastic shank that had been fashioned from his prison chair. A search of the kitchen where Nichols had been assigned resulted in the discovery of hidden contraband packages containing weapons and drug paraphernalia.[7]

Media coverage[edit]

In July 2010, a San Diego CityBeat reporter mailed former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham to inquire about his time at the prison's work camp halfway into his 100-month sentence for tax evasion, conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud.[8][9] Cunningham, who has become an advocate of prison reform,[10] responded in a handwritten letter that he spends his days there teaching fellow inmates to obtain their GED. He wrote: "[Too] many students have severe learning disabilities from either drugs or genetic[s]. During the past 4 years only one of my students was unable to graduate—I taught him life skills, using a calculator to add, subtract, [multiply and divide]. This way he could at least balance a check book."[8]

Notable inmates (current and former)[edit]

  • Inmates who were released from custody prior to 1982 are not listed on the Bureau of Prisons website.


Inmate Name Register Number Photo Status Details
Brian David Mitchell 15815-081 Now at USP Terre Haute Former street preacher and pedophile; convicted in 2010 of interstate kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines connection with the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart; accomplice Wanda Barzee was sentenced to 15 years.[11]
Steven Dale Green 20848-058 Committed suicide on February 15, 2014, while serving a life sentence.[12] Former US Army Private; convicted in 2009 of murder, aggravated sexual assault and other charges for raping 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi near Mahmoudiya, Iraq and then killing her and her family in 2006.[13][14]
Louis Eppolito 04596-748 Serving a life sentence. Former NYPD detective; convicted in 2006 of carrying out murders and sharing law enforcement intelligence disclosing the identities of witnesses for the Gambino Crime Family; his partner, Stephen Caracappa, was also sentenced to life.[15]
Larry Nassar 21504-040 Transferred to USP Coleman. Former USA Gymnastics team physician, convicted on federal charges relating to the possession of thousands of items of child pornography.[16]
H. Rap Brown 99974-555 Serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Black Power activist. Convicted of murder in Georgia.
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.
Whitey Bulger 02182-748[17] Deceased after being transferred to United States Penitentiary, Hazelton. Convicted, in 2013, on 32 counts of racketeering and firearms possession, including allegations that Bulger was complicit in 19 murders.

Political figures[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Photo Status Details
Randy "Duke" Cunningham 94405-198 Randy Duke Cunningham Jan 2005.jpg Released from custody on June 4, 2013; served 7 years.[18] Former US Congressman from California; pleaded guilty in 2005 to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from company owners in return for awarding them contracts to produce military equipment.[19]
Philip Giordano 14302-014 Giordano Mugshot.jpg Now at FCI Bennetsville Mayor of Waterbury, Connecticut from 1995 to 2001; convicted in 2003 of violating the civil rights of two female minors by forcing them to perform sex acts on him.[20]
Timothy Villagomez 00590-005 Timothy Villagomez.jpg Served a 7-year sentence. Released on June 23, 2017. LT Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory, from 2006 to 2009; convicted in 2009 of fraud and bribery; highest-ranking official from the Mariana Islands to be convicted .[21]


Inmate Name Register Number Photo Status Details
Jaan Laaman 10372-016 Now at USP McCreary Member of the United Freedom Front, a Marxist group which carried out robberies and bombings at corporate and governments facilities in the 1970s and early 1980s; convicted in 1985 for his involvement in 10 bombings and attempted bombings in New York.[22]

Organized crime figures[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Photo Status Details
William Pickard 82687-011 Leonardpickard.jpg Serving two life sentences. Former Deputy Director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at the University of California, Los Angeles; convicted in 2003 of conspiracy to produce and distribute the drug LSD; Pickard was allegedly the largest supplier of LSD in the United States at the time of his arrest.[23][24]


Inmate Name Register Number Photo Status Details
Edward Oedewaldt 14701-035 OEDEWALDT.jpg Now at FCI Petersburg Arrested during the largest child pornography prosecution in US history; pleaded guilty in 2011 to being the system administrator of Dreamboard, a website whose members produced and traded images and videos of adults molesting children.[25]
Ryan Patrick Lane 13107-049 Now at USP Caanan Convicted for robbing the TD Bank in Hampton, New Hampshire, on April 14, 2013; the Rockland Trust Bank in Hingham, Massachusetts, on March 29, 2013; and the Braintree Cooperative Bank in Quincy, Massachusetts, on April 25, 2013. In each instance, Lane entered the bank and handed the teller a note demanding money and, in the Hampton robbery, threatened to kill the teller if she pushed any alarms. Lane fled the banks on foot after committing the robberies. Transferred to another prison after assaulting Larry Nassar

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dale Quinn (February 2, 2007). "Guard drain strains Tucson prisons". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  2. ^ "USP Tucson". Federal Bureau of Prisons.
  3. ^ "Hearing on new federal prison". Arizona Daily Star. May 1, 2001. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  4. ^ Tim Ellis (December 28, 2006). "Federal prison nearly ready". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  5. ^ "Admissions and Orientation Handbook: Federal Correctional Complex, Tucson" (PDF). Federal Bureau of Prisons. 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  6. ^ Alexis Huicochea (May 29, 2009). "Tucson federal prison remains on lockdown after inmate fights". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  7. ^ "Federal prison inmate in Tucson gets more time". KGUN-TV. Associated Press. October 22, 2009. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  8. ^ a b Dave Maass (August 11, 2010). "From Tucson with love". San Diego CityBeat. Archived from the original on August 14, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  9. ^ "Plea Agreement by Randy "Duke" Cunningham and the U.S. Attorney". 2005. Retrieved 2005-12-05.
  10. ^ Jesse Zwick (August 11, 2010). "Randy "Duke" Cunningham: Prison Reform Advocate". The Washington Independent. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  11. ^ "Mitchell Sentenced to Life in Prison in Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping Case" (PDF). Justice.gtov. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-05-29. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  12. ^ Almasy, Steve (February 18, 2014). "Former soldier at center of murder of Iraqi family dies after suicide attempt". CNN. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  13. ^ Dao, James (2009-05-21). "Ex-Soldier Gets Life Sentence for Iraq Murders". Iraq: NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  14. ^ Bright, Evan (May 8, 2009). "Private Green Guilty On All Counts". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  15. ^ Feuer, Alan (2009-03-09). "Louis J. Eppolito News - The New York Times". Topics.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  16. ^ "Lawrence Nassar Sentenced To 60 Years In Federal Prison". United State Department of Justice. December 7, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2018. Lawrence Gerard Nassar, 54, of Holt, Michigan...
  17. ^ "Notorious Boston Gangster Whitey Bulger Killed at West Virginia Prison". NBCUniversal Media. October 30, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2019. Prior to that, he was held at a prison in Tucson...
  18. ^ Chen, Sharon (June 4, 2013). "Randy 'Duke' Cunningham released from prison". Tribune Broadcasting Company. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  19. ^ "Ex-congressman begins prison sentence - US news - Crime & courts | NBC News". MSNBC. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  20. ^ Von Zielbauer, Paul (March 26, 2003). "Ex-Mayor Convicted in Sex Abuse Case". The New York Times.
  21. ^ iSite Interactive Limited (2009-08-06). "CNMI former Lieutenant governor gets 7 years in prison". Islands Business. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  22. ^ Wald, Matthew L. (1987-05-22). "U.S. To Try Eight On A Rare Charge, Plotting To Overthrow The Government - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  23. ^ Silverstein, Stuart (2003-04-04). "Ex-UCLA Chemist Guilty in LSD Case - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  24. ^ "Drug Law Reporter: 10th Circuit Affirms Pickard's LSD Life Sentence". Rgbspecialprojects.blogspot.com. 2006-03-29. Retrieved 2012-11-06.

External links[edit]

While imprisoned, Pickard authored the acclaimed memoir "The Rose Of Paracelsus: On Secrets and Sacraments" http://www.createspace.com/5377339