Step one: cleanse the skin?
What do we do with the worst of the worst, after they’re sentenced for their crimes? Where do we send them? If they’re spared the death penalty, how should they spend the rest of their lives?
For people like Ted Kaczynski — the Unabomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — one of the Boston Marathon bombers, and potentially the Mexican drug kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the answer is the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado. For short, it’s known as ADX.
In the sentencing phase of trials, this prison is sometimes used as leverage to avoid the death penalty, as in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The New Yorker’s Patrick Radden Keefe described how defense attorney David Bruck invoked the prison in Tsarnaev’s trial.
He showed the jurors a photograph of ADX, the federal maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado, where several of [defense attorney Judy] Clarke’s former clients are held: a series of stark buildings nestled into barren, snow-covered terrain. It called to mind Siberia. If Tsarnaev was spared the death penalty, Bruck explained, he would live a life of near total isolation at ADX. Because of the Special Administrative Measures, he would have no contact with other inmates or the outside world.
What do these prisoners deserve, if anything? How should we approach their rehabilitation? We’ll talk with a former warden of ADX and an expert in solitary confinement.
- Robert Hood Retired warden, ADX Florence in Fremont County, CO, the nation's only federal "supermax" penitentiary
- Dr. Terry Kupers Psychiatrist; author of "Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It"; program faculty at The Wright Institute
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Preet Bharara is the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.