Sorry Obama, the Supermax is full
As President Obama noted in his Guantanamo speech yesterday,”Nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal, supermax prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists.” This may be true, but unfortunately, they may not have room for the Gitmo detainees. The Denver Post reports that Colorado’s 480-cell supermax, already home to notable terrorists like ...
As President Obama noted in his Guantanamo speech yesterday,”Nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal, supermax prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists.”
This may be true, but unfortunately, they may not have room for the Gitmo detainees. The Denver Post reports that Colorado’s 480-cell supermax, already home to notable terrorists like 9/11 conspirator Zacharias Massoui, the 1993 World Trade Center planner Ramzi Youssef, “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, and unabomber Ted Kaczinski, is just about out of room:
Only one bed was not filled Thursday at Supermax, U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Tracy Billingsley said.
So getting any more than a handful of detainees from Guantanamo to Florence would require considerable logistical maneuvers to clear room or an even longer-term solution through prison expansion.The first step, according to the head of the union representing correctional officers, would be to increase staffing at Supermax.
“There’s a whole contingent of issues that have to be well thought out before we ever agreed to bring inmates of that caliber into our system,” said Bryan Lowry, president of the National Council of Prison Locals, which represents federal correctional officers.
“These inmates that are in there now are some of the most dangerous inmates in the nation. I don’t know how you move them out just to move inmates from Guantanamo in. Alternatives have got to be explored.”
The Colorado supermax is only used for very worst offenders, often those who have killed fellow inmates at other facilities. Prisoners are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. The fact that this prison is now overcrowded is a pretty sad state of affairs.
To his credit, the mayor of Florence, Colorado, where the supermax is located seemed pretty unfazed by all the congressional scaremongering about “bringing hardened terrorists within our borders.”
“Most of us own guns,” he said.
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating
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