After being formally sentenced in a federal courtoom this morning, convicted Al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is expected to spend the rest of his life in the federal "Supermax" prison near Florence, Colorado. Yesterday, a federal jury recommended that Moussaoui serve life in prison without parole for his role in the 9-11 plot. Under federal law, the judge must impose the sentence recommended by the jury.
The "Supermax" is considered the most secure prison in the federal system. It was built in the early 1990s, after the murder of two guards highlighted security problems at the existing facility in Marion, Illinois. The prison at Florence is reserved for the most dangerous inmates in federal custody; 22% of the prisoners at the Supermax have killed other prisoners, and 35% have assaulted guards. Consequently, most of the population at Florence spend 23 hours a day inside their cells; for exercise, prisoners spend an hour in another concrete cubicle. Club Fed, it ain't:
Along with the "hard core" prisoners of the federal system, the Supermax is also home for some of the most notorious federal inmates--"special" prisoners whose incarceration is intended to be as hash as possible. FBI traitor Robert Hanssen is serving his life sentence at the prison, along with Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, terrorist bomber Eric Rudolph, shoe bomber Richard Reid, and OmarAbdel-Rahman, the "blind sheik" who master-minded the first World Trade Center bombing.
While isolation at the Supermax will deny Moussaoui the spotlight he craves, it's a bit disappointing that Moussaoui will spend most of his time away from other inmates. My personal preference for Moussaoui would be the federal prison in Atlanta, a high security facility where inmates are less isolated. In that environment, the convicted Al Qaida terrorist could (perhaps) meet the business end of a shiv, and save the U.S. taxpayers a lot of money on future incarceration costs..
Addendum: I'm told that Amnesty International has problems with the Supermax Facility, and the practice of isolating prisoners for up to 23 hours a day. On second thought, the Colorado prison just might be the right spot for Moussaoui.