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NCJ Number: NCJ 221849     Find in a Library
Title: USP Marion: The First Federal Supermax
Author(s): Stephen C. Richards
  Journal: The Prison Journal  Volume:88  Issue:1  Dated:March 2008  Pages:6 to 22
Date Published: 03/2008
Page Count: 17
  Annotation: This article uses a "convict criminology perspective" in reviewing the history of the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, IL (USP Marion), which has served as a model for high-security ("supermax") confinement worldwide, and it describes the prison's inmates, control units, programs and services, released inmates, the prison camp, transfers, and comparable supermax penitentiaries.
Abstract: In 1963, the Federal Bureau of Prisons built USP Marion as a smaller prison to house the convicts transferred from Alcatraz after it closed. In 1973, the "control unit" cell blocks were first created. In 1979, USP Marion was designated the only Level 6 institution (5 was maximum, 4, 3, and 2 were medium, and 1 was minimum security). In 1983, Marion erupted in violence when two officers and one prisoner were killed and two officers were seriously injured during a 6-day period. Since that time, the entire prison has been in permanent lockdown. Prisoners are confined in control-unit cell blocks (one-man cells) at least 23 hours a day. Many prisoners are locked in their cells 24 hours a day for years. The cells consist of concrete beds, concrete floors and walls, combination toilets and sinks, and heavy metal doors. They have no television and very few personal possessions. Most of the prisoners never leave their high-security cells, except for occasional no-contact family or lawyer visits or medical attention. Prisoners tend to be older, better educated, and more successful at criminal pursuits than their State counterparts. A large number were or are still connected to organized criminal enterprises. Marion has few programs or services for rehabilitation, and prisoners released from Marion go straight to the street, because they are too hard-core to live in halfway houses. The Federal prison camp includes a satellite minimum-security camp immediately adjacent to the prison. 71 references
Main Term(s): Correctional facilities
Index Term(s): Maximum security ; Corrections internal security ; Inmate segregation ; History of corrections ; Prison conditions ; Illinois
Sponsoring Agency: Open Society Foundation
United States of America
Publisher URL: 
Type: Historical Overview
Country: United States of America
Language: English
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