Marion Prison

Marion Prison

Marion Prison
Herrin Massacre
Giant City
Fort Massac

The United States Penitentiary is a former supermax prison, located in Marion, Illinois. It was built in 1963 to replace the Alcatraz prison in San Francisco, which closed the same year.
Top View of Prison

 If you wish to visit the prison, please click on the above picture.


Opened in 1963, Marion became the United States' highest security prison by 1978. The facility became the nation's first control unit when violence forced a longterm lockdown in 1983. Marion was one of two supermax prisons in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the other being ADX Florence in Colorado. The prison was originally constructed to hold 500 inmates. In 1968, a behavior modification program was implemented, called Control and Rehabilitation Effort, or CARE. Inmates placed in CARE wound up either in solitary confinement, or were subjected to "group therapy", which involved psychological sessions.
On October 22, 1983, two prison guards, Merle E. Clutts and Robert L. Hoffman, were killed in separate incidents, both to the hands of Aryan Brotherhood members. Clutts was stabbed by Thomas Silverstein. The prison was, at the time, the holding place for the Federal Bureau of Prisons' most dangerous prisoners. Despite this, two inmates were able independently to kill their accompanying guards. Relatively lax security procedures allowed a prisoner, while walking down a hall, to turn to the side and approach a particular cell. An accomplice would subsequently unlock his handcuffs with a stolen key and provide him with a knife. As a result of the incident, the prison in Marion went into "permanent lockdown," and was completely transformed into a "control unit" prison. This penal construction and operation theory, since named supermax (a portmanteau of super and maximum) calls for the keeping of inmates in solitary confinement between twenty-two and twenty-three hours each day, and does not allow congregate dining, exercising, or religious services. These practices were used as administrative measures to keep prisoners under control.

Famous Inmates:

  • Leroy Antonio "Nicky" Barnes (1933- ) - former drug lord of Harlem
  • Christopher John Boyce (1953- ) - Soviet spy
  • Ed Brown - (current) New Hampshire tax evader and protester
  • James Coonan (1946- ) - former leader of the "Westies" street gang, which operated in Hell's Kitchen, NYC
  • William Daddano, Sr. (1912-1975) - favored "middle manager" in the Chicago Outfit
  • John Gotti (1940-2002) - American mobster and head of the Gambino crime family.
  • Christopher Jeburk (1975?- ) - prison escapee and bank robber
  • Chevie Kehoe (1973- ) - murderer and white supremacist
  • Tom Manning - United Freedom Front militant and left-wing extremist
  • Leonard Peltier (1944- ) - Native American activist (served at Marion June 1, 1977-1985)
  • Jonathan Pollard (1954- ) - Israeli spy
  • Pete Rose (1941- ) - athlete charged with filing false income tax returns (incarcerated from August 8, 1990, through January 7, 1991)
  • Nicodemo Scarfo (1929-) - former Philadelphia crime boss transferred to federal prison in Georgia, until 2033
  • Thomas Silverstein (1952- ) - murderer and Aryan Brotherhood leader
  • Garrett Brock Trapnell (1938-1993) - skyjacker, bank robber, and con man
  • John Anthony Walker (1937- ) - Soviet spy