Why No One Ever Escapes From “The Alcatraz of the Rockies”

Just two hours outside of Denver in the Rocky Mountains foothills sits the highest-security prison in America. Its official name is the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, but everyone calls it the ADX. The only federal "supermax” prison, it's home to the most dangerous and escape-prone inmates in federal lockup. Among the nearly 400 inmates at ADX are infamous characters like notorious drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, Ted Kaczynski (the “Unabomber”), Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols, and World Trade Center terrorist Ramzi Yousef. Prisoners at ADX spend 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, locked inside their 7X12-foot cells. The only time inmates are allowed out of their cells is for one hour of exercise, and even then they are handcuffed and shackled at the waist and ankles. They receive all of their meals through a slot in their cell door, and their only glimpse of the outside world is through a thin slit of a window aimed at an empty sky. This deprives prisoners of learning the layout of the prison and the location of their cells. All of this has resulted in ADX being known for the fact that no one has ever escaped from the prison. Since ADX inmates can't be trusted with anything that could be broken down and made into a weapon, all the cell furniture is solid concrete and immovable, including a concrete writing desk, concrete chair and a concrete slab topped with a thin foam pad that serves as a bed. The "bathroom" is a combination toilet/sink and a shower that turns on automatically three times a week. With good behavior, inmates can earn the right to buy a small, black-and-white TV with a built-in radio, and to borrow books and magazines from the prison library. Phone calls are limited to 15 minutes a month to close family members. Prisoners are allowed five visits each month, under strict circumstances. When it comes to ADX, it’s not designed for rehabilitation, but for containment.