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Home > corrections 101 > Day 7: What is Maximum Security?

Day 7: What is Maximum Security?

One of the tasks I was assigned today was loading news articles onto the website. Many of them had to do with prisons obviously, and it gave me the idea to research different prisons around America and investigates specifically those that are maximum security. I stumbled across a website that described a prison in Florence, CO called United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility a.k.a. ADX, or Supermax. It is a maximum security prison that houses the most dangerous of male criminals. Most of the inmates are kept 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, with one hour allotted for exercise.

Inmates at ADX include “The Unabomer,” Theodore Kraczynski, Barry Mills, Leading member of the prison gang the Aryan Brotherhood, Matthew Hale, white supremacist convicted of soliciting the murder of a federal judge, and other notable criminals. They are locked up in a 7 foot by 12 foot cell with a thick steel door and receive their meals through a small slot in the door. They have a thin window (4 inches by 4 feet) that allows them to view only the sky and roof so that they do not have a sense of where exactly they are in the prison. There is minimal interaction with other inmates because they are so dangerous. 22% of the inmates at ADX, in addition to their original convictions, were charged with murder of another prisoner at their previous establishments. 35% of the inmates attacked another inmate or a Corrections Officer at their previous prisons.

Cells are equipped with a toilet, shower and sink. As well as a bed, a desk and a stool made almost entirely out of poured concrete. There is also a small television in each cell that shows religious, recreational and educational programming and can be taken away at any time as a form of punishment.

There is a “step down” program that is part of the prison. It lasts for three years and prepares the less dangerous of inmates to return back to their maximum security facility. Each year brings more social interaction and less solitary confinement. However, if an inmate disobeys the rules in any way, it’s back to square one for them.
The prison has advanced techniques to ensure there is no way of escaping, which nobody ever has done. It is equipped with motion detectors, cameras, steel doors and razor wire fences Laser beams and attack dogs secure the area between the prison walls and the razor fences.

I chose to write about a prison today because I hadn’t really spent time investigating any actual facilities yet. I wasn’t even aware that this facility existed until today. Looking into ADX led me to research about the criminals that are housed there. I read about John Walker Lindh, and American citizen, who fought with the Taliban against Americans. I also read a lot about gang violence because a few of the inmates are the heads of some of America’s most prominent gangs including “Gangster Disciples” and the “Aryan Brotherhood.”

Researching information about the actual prison and its members is one of the most interesting things I’ve investigated since I started my internship and I intend to look further into this subject throughout the rest of my time here. Have you ever gone on any prison tours? Any stories or facts you’d like to share about your outside experiences with a prison? Post them here; I’d love to hear about them.

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