Tsarnaev Prison Choices: “Clean Version Of Hell” Or IN Death Row


The U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, the nation's highest-security prison, a so-called Supermax known as the Alcatraz of the Rockies, is where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is likely to end up if just one of 12 jurors decides to sentence the convicted Marathon bomber to life in prison, says the Boston Globe. What distinguishes ADX, as it's known, from other federal prisons is that it was designed for solitary confinement. Many of the more than 400 prisoners are required to spend 23 hours a day alone in 7-by-12-foot concrete cells, where they get meals on trays slid through small holes in the steel doors, see limited natural light from a sliver of a window, and are permitted little contact with anyone other than staff. When prisoners are allowed out of their cells, they are escorted by multiple guards and are required to wear leg irons, handcuffs, and belly chains. Their recreation hour is usually spent in a small outdoor cage, which is surrounded by high gray walls with a view of the sky etched by barbed wire.

“The ADX is a far more stark environment than any other prison I've ever seen, and I've been to all of the federal prisons,” said Robert Hood, ADX warden between 2002 and 2005. “When I call it a clean version of hell, I mean that it's squeaky clean and quiet, because everyone there is locked down. It's a very abnormal environment.” If the jury sentences him to death, he’d likely be sent to the penitentiary in Terre Haute, In., where he could spend years, perhaps decades, among other death row inmates as his lawyers appeal his sentence. Since the federal government reinstated capital punishment in 1988 only three federal prisoners have been executed, out of 74 sentenced to death. Tsarnaev could potentially have many more privileges and amenities if he is sent to Terre Haute.

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