Supermax ready for Moussaoui

Friday, May 5, 2006

Officials at the prison declined comment Thursday after Moussaoui was formally sentenced in Virginia. Carla Wilson, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons in Washington, would not confirm that Moussaoui will be a Supermax inmate.

Still, she noted the prison 90 miles southwest of Denver is designed for people like him.

"It operates under a special mission and that mission is to handle the most violent and disruptive inmates," she said.

The $60 million Supermax, formally called Administrative Maximum, was built in 1995 in Florence, a town of 3,600 people the police chief calls a "quiet, little retirement community." The triangular, two-story prison was designed for inmates once held at the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Ill., which had replaced Alcatraz when it closed in 1963.

The soundproofed cells were designed so inmates cannot make eye contact with each other. Each 7-by-12-feet cell has a long, narrow window looking out at other prison walls or the small concrete recreation yard.

Concrete platforms topped with mattresses function as beds. Each cell also contains a concrete stool, shower and toilet.

Hood said inmates see no current news on the small black-and-white TV, and some of the programming is official prison material. "If a newspaper is allowed it will be time-delayed," the former warden said.

Inmates get one hour out of their cells each day to eat or play basketball or handball, though some earn longer recreation periods through good behavior. They can take academic courses via closed-circuit television in each cell. Religious services are conducted in a small chapel.

There are 13 prisons, state and federal, in the Florence area with some 3,000 inmates. The surrounding community shrugged off the possibility of another high-profile criminal in town -- even one of the Sept. 11 conspirators.

"I mean, we've had a lot of weird ones out there and Florence is still standing," said Louise Garcia, manager of the Super 8 motel that often serves as a stop for prison visitors.

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