<<Home Niagara Falls Reporter Archive>>

Toughest Prison in USA, No Doubt

The toughest prison in the USA.
This is your life... if you wind up at ADX, Florence....

US Penitentiary, ADX, built south of Florence, Colorado,, in 1994, on 37 acres of desert land, is said to be the most secure prison in the United States prison system.

It is “Supermax,” said to be escape proof, with 12-foot, razor-wire-fences, 24-hour surveillance, laser beams, silent pressure pads, attack dogs that attack without barking guarding the area and gun towers with reportedly perfect sightlines.

Supermax prisons have been designed to not let prisoners escape at any cost. The building is designed so that inmates have no idea where they are located in the facility.

Convicts at Florence spend 23 hours a day locked-up, and are only allowed outside of cells with leg irons and handcuffs. Exercise time is limited and contact with the outside world is kept to an absolute minimum.

More than 10,000 computer-controlled electronic prison gates all close automatically if any escape attempt is detected. Electricity is remotely controlled and guards watch prisoners 24 hours a day.

The windows are angled so that there are no views of the world outside.

Inside it has 490 beds, 1,400 remote-controlled steel doors, motion detectors and pressure pads.

Inmates are kept in solitary confinement inside 12 - by-7-foot concrete cells that are sound-proofed to prevent prisoners communicating with each other by Morse code.

Prison librarians examine every page of every book touched by an inmate to make sure no messages are inserted.

ADX was designed to ensure the total isolation of its prisoners.

It houses some of the most dangerous prisoners in the nation.

Extreme sensory deprivation and social isolation is part of the technique employed to run the facility and house what most consider human monsters.

In the cells, there are two doors, one with bars and a second made of solid steel. The doors slide open and are controlled from a secure remote control station. Food is hand delivered to each inmate by guards, but the inmate doesn't see him. The remotely controlled bars separate each cell from a vestibule, and the solid steel door separates the vestibule from the hallway. Food comes into the vestibule through a slot in the door.

Each cell has an immovable bed, desk, and stool made of concrete and a combination toilet/sink and interior shower.

The toilets shut off if plugged and the showers are on timers.

Mirrors, which are made of steel, not glass, lights, radios, and, in rare instances, small black and white televisions where prisoners receive educational close-circuit broadcasts, are used as privileges and are seldom awarded.

The cells are lit and monitored by video cameras 24-hours-a-day.

Each cell has a small slit for a window near the top of the cell, which a prisoner can look through by climbing on the desk, and which provides a view of the concrete walls of the exercise enclosure into which the inmate is released by remote control for one hour a day, five days a week.

During the hour he is allowed out, the inmate goes into the exercise enclosure, which is a concrete cell with vaulted ceilings and a 4-inch wide, 4-foot long skylight, where he can glimpse the sky, but not the nearby mountains.

The exercise room permits the occupant to walk 10 steps in any direction, or 30 feet in a circle.

For the first three years, prisoners are not allowed to come into contact with other prisoners. The prison maintains a “step-down” program, by which prisoners can gradually earn their way, through good behavior, into less restrictive conditions. Over time, good behavior can earn inmates more “outside” time, and a possible transfer back to a less-secure prison.

Transfer to an even marginally less restrictive environment can require years of good behavior.

At the center of the prison is an area known as “the Black Hole,” where the toughest convicts are kept in 148 punishment cells that are kept darkened and completely soundproofed.

Supermaxes are the end of the road for those in the prison system.

Many of the prisoners, if they are not already insane, soon become insane. Many prisoners at ADX are reported to wail, scream, and bang on the walls of their soundproof cells constantly. Some mutilate themselves, others carry on delusional conversations, while some spread feces and body fluids throughout their cells.

Forty-one percent, according to one study, were reported to have hallucinations.

Suicide attempts are common; some have been successful.

Critics contend that this sort of treatment constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the 8th Amendment.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

OCT 08, 2013