It’s known in pop culture as “supermax,” but to the federal Bureau of Prisons, its name is USPFlorenceADMAX. Or ADMAX for short.
It’s where the nation’s most dangerous prisoners are kept — and where Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols is serving 161 consecutive life sentences with no parole. He was sentenced to life on June 4, 1998, and sent directly to the highest-level security prison in the Bureau of Prisons system, located at Florence Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, Colo.
ADMAX is an administrative security United States penitentiary that houses 425 inmates, all of them male offenders. Nichols is one of only 5 percent of the prison population who were directly committed to ADMAX from court – 95 percent of the inmates housed there are repeatedly violent offenders who are eventually sent there after serving time in other prisons.
It was created to help the government manage high-risk escape and violent inmates from throughout the Bureau of Prisons in one area, instead of in maximum security at several prisons across the country. It’s considered the most secure prison in the nation and has never had an escape.
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Other high-profile tenants include the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, Zacarias Moussaoui, convicted in civilian court of the Sept. 11 attacks, and Robert Hanssen, the former FBI agent who betrayed several spies to the Soviet Union and Russia. Another inmate has Tarrant County ties: Wadih el-Hage, a one-time resident of Arlington and a Fort Worth tire repair shop employee who was an al Qaeda member who worked as a secretary for Osama bin Laden.
Staff writer John Gravois contributed to this report, which contains material from the E.W. Scripps Co.