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The Worst of the Worst

He’s escaped twice before so where will convicted drug lord “El Chapo” Guzmán serve time?

Inside America’s only “Supermax” prison and what life is like for its most notorious felons.


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“Alcatraz of the Rockies”

  • U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility (Known as “ADX”) in Florence, CO, 90 miles south of Denver.
  • City lobbied for the $60M prison, with residents donating the 600 acres needed.
  • Highest-security prison in U.S.
  • Opened in 1994, designed to be “escape-proof.” To date, no one has ever escaped.
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“This place is not designed for humanity. When it’s 23 hours a day in a room with a slit of a window… It’s not designed for rehabilitation. Period. End of story.”

Robert Hood, ADX warden from 2002 to 2005, on the "stark environment" built explicitly to house men often already serving multiple life sentences with no chance of parole. The goal is to try & release inmates to a less restrictive prison to serve out the rest of their sentence.
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Why Do We Have ADX?

  • In 1983, worst criminals went to Marion, IL federal prison, but 2 inmates killed 2 security guards.
  • Gov’t was convinced to build a new prison to isolate prisoners.

“No way to control a very small subset of the inmate population who show absolutely no concern for human life.”
Norman Carlson, Fmr. Director of Federal Bureau of Prisons

Norman Carlson, Fmr. Director of Federal Bureau of Prisons
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Infamous Inmates:

  • Unabomber Ted Kaczynski
  • Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
  • 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui
  • 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Yousef
  • OK City bomber Terry Nichols
  • Underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
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Life on the Inside

  • 400 all-male prisoners.
  • Most inmates spend 22-24 hours a day in solitary confinement & go days w/o words spoken to them.
  • All meals, bathroom & showers in 7-by-12-foot cell.
  • Most cells have TVs with access to books & magazines.
  • All visits are non-contact.
  • Surrounded by wire fence & armed guards.
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Prison Controversy

  • Several prisoners have filed lawsuits against the Bureau of Prisons over ADX conditions.
  • Concern is over solitary confinement & what it does to inmates mentally & physically.
  • 9/11 conspirator Moussaoui sued, calling it “psychological torture.”
  • Per Bureau of Prisons rules, inmates with a “significant mental disorder” aren’t allowed at ADX.
Now You Know

Guzmán (59) was extradited from Mexico on the condition U.S. prosecutors wouldn't seek the death penalty. He was found guilty on all 10 counts, but vows to appeal. He'll be sentenced June 25th & we'll learn where he will serve his life sentence - with no chance of parole.

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