United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth

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United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth
Prison from the southwest
LocationLeavenworth, Kansas
StatusOperational
Security classMedium-security (with minimum-security satellite camp)
Population1,870 (475 in prison camp)
Opened1903
Managed byFederal Bureau of Prisons
WardenClaude Maye
 
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United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth
Prison from the southwest
LocationLeavenworth, Kansas
StatusOperational
Security classMedium-security (with minimum-security satellite camp)
Population1,870 (475 in prison camp)
Opened1903
Managed byFederal Bureau of Prisons
WardenClaude Maye

The United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth (USP Leavenworth) is a medium-security United States federal prison for male inmates in Kansas. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. It also includes a satellite prison camp for minimum-security male offenders.

USP Leavenworth is located 25 miles north of Kansas City, Kansas.[1]

Background[edit]

The civilian USP Leavenworth is the oldest of three major prisons built on federal land in Leavenworth County, Kansas. It is often confused with, but separate from the United States Military Barracks, which is a military facility on Fort Leavenworth. The United States Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) is four miles (6 km) north and is the sole maximum-security penal facility of the United States Military.[2] Prisoners from the original USDB were used to build the civilian penitentiary. In addition, the military's medium security Joint Regional Correctional Facility, located southwest of the new USDB, opened in 2010. The three prisons operate independently of each other.

The prison was extensively described by Pete Earley, the only writer at that time who had ever been granted unlimited access to the prison, in his book, The Hot House. The prison's history has also been covered extensively in the pictorial history titled U.S. Penitentiary Leavenworth by Kenneth M. LaMaster. Mr. LaMaster is the retired Institution Historian.

USP Leavenworth was the largest maximum security federal prison in the United States from 1903 until 2005 when it was downgraded to a medium-security facility.[3]

Design[edit]

USP Leavenworth was one of three first generation federal prisons which were built in the early 1900s. Prior to its construction, federal prisoners were held at state prisons. In 1895, Congress authorized the construction of the federal prison system.[4]

The other two were Atlanta and McNeil Island (although McNeil dates to the 1870s the major expansion did not occur until the early 1900s).[5]

The prison follows a format popularized at the Auburn Correctional Facility in New York where the cell blocks were in a large rectangular building. The rectangular building was focused on indoor group labor with a staff continually patrolling.[6]

The Auburn system was a marked difference from the earlier Pennsylvania plan popularized at Eastern State Penitentiary in which cell blocks radiated out from a central building (and was the original design for the nearby Disciplinary Barracks before it was torn down and replaced by a totally new prison).[7]

The St. Louis, Missouri architecture firm of Eames and Young designed both Leavenworth and the United States Penitentiary, Atlanta.[8] Leavenworth's prison cells are back to back in the middle of the structure facing the walls. The prison's walls are 40 feet (12 m) high, 40 feet (12 m) below the surface and 3,030 feet (920 m) long and enclose 22.8 acres (92,000 m2). Its domed main building was nicknamed the "Big Top" or "Big House."[9] The domed Disciplinary Barracks two miles (3 km) to the north was nicknamed the "Little Top" until it was torn down in 2004 and replaced with a newer structure.

Historical timeline[edit]

Notable inmates (current and former)[edit]

Famous escapees[edit]

Basil Banghart escaped from Leavenworth a total of three times. He escaped federal custody a fourth time while awaiting return to Leavenworth.[citation needed]

Executions[edit]

On September 5, 1930, Carl Panzram, under a federal death sentence for murder, was hanged at USP Leavenworth. On August 12, 1938, two men under the sentence of death for murder, Robert Suhay and Glenn Applegate, were hanged at USP Leavenworth.[12]

Officer deaths[edit]

Five officers were killed in the line of duty at Leavenworth.[citation needed]

In addition, two non-officers were killed in the line of duty between 1922 and 1929:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Federal Bureau of Prisons. "USP Leavenworth". Bop.gov. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  2. ^ "Welcome to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks". USDB. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Prison Info - Leavenworth Convention and Visitors Bureau - lvarea.com - Retrieved September 1, 2009". lvarea.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of crime and punishment, Volume 2 By David Levinson Sage Publications, Inc; 1 edition (March 18, 2002) ISBN 0-7619-2258-X.
  5. ^ McNeil Island and the Federal Penitentiary, 1841-1981 - historylink.org - Retrieved October 1, 2009.
  6. ^ The U.S. Federal Prison System by Mary F. (Francesca) Bosworth - Sage Publications, Inc; 1st edition (July 15, 2002) ISBN 0-7619-2304-7.
  7. ^ The U.S. Federal Prison System by Mary F. (Francesca) Bosworth - Sage Publications, Inc; 1st edition (July 15, 2002) ISBN 0-7619-2304-7.
  8. ^ Thomas Crane Young, FAIA (1858-1934) - landmarks-stl.org - Retrieved July 25, 2009.
  9. ^ Jackson, Joe (August 28, 2002). Leavenworth Train: A Fugitive's Search for Justice in the Vanishing West. New York, New York: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 978-0786710607. Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Leavenworth (detention facility)". Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2014-08-06. 
  11. ^ Erickson, Matt (2011-01-27). "Prison Bureau seeking public comment on plans for new Leavenworth facility". TonganoxieMirror.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  12. ^ "Executions of Federal Prisoners (since 1927)." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on August 22, 2010.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°19′51″N 94°56′09″W / 39.33083°N 94.93583°W / 39.33083; -94.93583