June 2012 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
Yuma Territorial Prison from Wikipedia
The Yuma Territorial Prison was a prison located in Yuma, Arizona Territory, United States. It is one of the Yuma Crossing and Associated Sites on the National Register of Historic Places in the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area. The site is now operated as an historical museum by Arizona State Parks as Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, a state park in southwestern Arizona.


The prison accepted its first inmate on July 1, 1876. For the next 33 years 3,069 prisoners, including 29 women, served sentences there for crimes ranging from murder to polygamy. The prison was under continuous construction with labor provided by the prisoners. In 1909, the last prisoner left the Territorial Prison for the newly constructed Arizona State Prison Complex located in Florence, Arizona.

High School

From 1910 to 1914 the Yuma Union High School occupied the buildings. When the school's football team played a game against Phoenix, with Phoenix favored to win, the Phoenix team branded the Yuma team "criminals" when Yuma unexpectedly won; the school adopted the mascot with pride, sometimes shortened as the "Crims"; the school mascot image is the face of a hardened criminal, and the student merchandise shop is known as the Cell Block.
Yuma Territorial Prison is a living museum of the Old West. More than 3,000 desperadoes, convicted of crimes ranging from polygamy to murder, were imprisoned in rock and adobe cells here during the prison's 33 year existence between 1876 and 1909. The cells, main gate and guard tower are still standing, providing visitors with a glimpse of convict life in the Southwest a century ago.

Main Gate to the Yuma Territorial Prison.
Model of the Territorial Prison at Yuma
Click on images to enlarge

Cells and yard at the Yuma Territorial Prison

Iron bunk beds inside the prison

Mug shot of train robber 
Burt Alvord
at the prison in 1904
United States Penitentiary (USP), Leavenworth, Kansas from Wikipedia
The United States Penitentiary (USP), Leavenworth was the largest maximum security federal prison in the United States from 1903 until 2005. It became a medium security prison in 2005.

It is located in Leavenworth, Kansas. It is an all-male, medium-security facility committed to carrying out the judgments of the Federal Courts.


The civilian USP Leavenworth is the oldest of three major prisons built on the grounds of 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. The original USDB opened in 1874 with the current facility opening in 2002. Prisoners from the original USDB were used to build the civilian prison. In addition, the military's medium security Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, located southwest of the new USDB, opened in 2010. The three prisons operate independently of each other.

In September 2009, the prison population consisted of 1,899 inmates in the main building and 407 in the adjoining minimum security camp.

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.


Leavenworth is one of three first generation United States Penitentiaries 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.

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

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.

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).

The St. Louis, Missouri architecture firm of Eames and Young designed both Leavenworth and the United States Penitentiary, Atlanta.

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." 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.

The large central structure created various maintenance problems. It was nicknamed the "Hot House" because of its poor ventilation even when air conditioning is running. Extensive research by Prison Historian and author Kenneth M. LaMaster has shown that the institution has never been referred to as the "Hot House". Books such as Tom White: The Life of a Lawman and other publications show that the institution has been referred to as "The Big House", "The Big Top", and "The Big L", but never the "Hot House". The latter was popularized after a book of the same title was released by Pete Early in the late 1980s.

The next generation was characterized by the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary built in 1931 which started a move away from a huge central castle like structure. Cell blocks are arranged in a "telephone pole" format extending out from the central building. This eliminated the mixing of prisoners of all types in the same building.

Modern federal prisons such as ADX Florence have gone to smaller buildings spread out over a compound and depend more upon electronic surveillance.

Historical timeline

    1827: Colonel Henry Leavenworth chose site for new fort.
    1875: Fort chosen as the site for a military prison. Within a year, Fort Leavenworth housed more than 300 prisoners in a remodeled, 
              supply-depot building.
    1894: Secretary of War conceded to the House Appropriations Committee that War Department could do without the military prison.
    1895 July 1: Congress transferred the military prison from the War Department to the US Department of Justice. The Department of Justice 
             took over the plant and inaugurated the United States Penitentiary. Commandant of the military prison, James V. Pope. Warden of the 
             USP, James W. French.
    1896: House Judiciary Committee recommended that the facility be replaced.
    1896 June 10: the Congress authorized a new federal penitentiary.
    1897 March: Warden French marched prisoners every morning two and one-half miles (4 km) from Ft. Leavenworth to the new site of the 
             federal penitentiary. Work went on for two and one-half decades.
    1899 July 1: Robert W. McClaughry was appointed Leavenworth's second Warden.
    1901 November 10: Joseph Waldrupe was the first correctional officer to be killed (records dating back to 1901) in the line of duty at 
    1903: Enough space was under roof to permit the first 418 prisoners to move into the new federal penitentiary.
    1904: First Cell house completed
    1906 February 1: All prisoners had been transferred to the new facility, and the War Department appreciatively accepted the return of its 
    1910 May: The Attorney General approved construction of a separate cellblock for females on the penitentiary grounds—this plan was later 
    1913 June: T. W. Morgan, editor of a newspaper in the small Kansas town of Ottawa, was appointed Leavenworth's 3rd Warden.
    1919: Construction of the cellblocks completed.
    1926: Construction of the shoe shops completed.
    1928: Construction of the brush and broom factory completed.
    1929: Construction of the barber shop and first intraprison murder.
    1930 May: the Bureau of Prisons became a federal agency within the Department of Justice.
    1930 September 5: Carl Panzram becomes the first to be executed (records dating back to 1927) by hanging at Leavenworth.
    1934 December 11: President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the first federal prison industries as a public corporation.
    1938 August 12: Robert Suhay and Glenn Applegate the first double execution (records dating back to 1927) by hanging at Leavenworth.
    1980s & 1990s: The institution undergoes major renovations to three of its four cellhouses: A, B, and C. D-Cellhouse today remains the only 
              cellblock true to its original design.
    2005: Federal Bureau of Prisons changes USP Leavenworth's mission. The BOP decided to change the custody level of USP Leavenworth 
              from High / Maximum to Medium while retaining the USP designation for historical reasons.
    2011: The Federal Bureau of Prisons takes comments on a proposed new 1,500 medium security and 300 minimum security facility on the 
              current prison grounds on 144 acres to the west of the current prison and a 238 acre area to the east.

Notable inmates

Name Status Details
Samuel R. Caldwell  . First man in America to be arrested for selling marihuana in violation of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937
Fredrick Cook In 1922, pled guilt to mail fraud and imprisoned until 1930. Famous explorer whose claims to be the first to reach the summit of Mt. McKinley and the North Pole turned out to be fraudulent.
Jimmy Burke who was sent to prison for the first time at the age of eighteen in 1949 and once again in 1972 for extortion. Gangster
James J. Bulger He was shipped to Leavenworth out of Alcatraz Irish-American gangster sent to Leavenworth for hijacking and bank robbing.
Troy Deon Reddick  . Bank robber and rapper know as Da' Unda' Dogg
Phillip Garrido  . Sent to Leavenworth for kidnap of Katherine Callaway, later kidnaped Jaycee Dugard
Fritz Joubert Duquesne  . Nazi spy and leader of the Duqesne Spy Ring, the largest convicted espionage case in United States history.
Victor Feguer  . last federal fugitive executed before Timothy McVeigh.
John "Sonny" Feanzese  . A legendary New York gangster and a high ranking member of the Colombo crime family.
Antonio Fernandez  . aka Kine Tone and current Inca of the Latin Kings gang.
Gus Hall  . former leader of the Communist Party USA, indicted under the Smith Act
Thomas James Holden  . murderer and escapee, FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive #1, 1950
Michael Nunn  . Former IBF Middleweight and the WBA Super Middleweight Boxing Champion/
Orba Elmer Jackson  . escapee and post office robber, FBI Top Ten Most Wanted #7, 1950.
George "Machine Gun " Kelly  . Depression era gangster.
Randy Lanier Transferred 1986 Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year. Guilty of engineering a Continuing Criminal Enterprise and conspiring to distribute more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana.
Felix Mitchell Stabbed to death in 1986, just months into his prison term notorious drug kingpin from Oakland, California.
Byron "Bam" Morris   former NFL player, played in Super Bowl XXX
Ramsey Muniz Imprisoned for life on drug violations Raza Unida Party political activist in Texas, gubernatorial candidate in 1972 and 1974.
"Boss" Tom Penergast  . Kansas City politician who handpicked HArry Truman for US Senate.
Tom Petters As of 2010, held in USP, Leavenworth Former Minnesota CEO convicted in a $.6 billion Ponzi scheme, the largest fraud case in state history.
George "Bugs" Moran  . Irish gangster who battled Al Capone for the control of Chicago's criminal underworld, who died one month into his sentence from lung cancer and is buried in the institution cemetery
Richard Case Nagell  . the so-called "Man Who Knew To Mach"
Carl Panzram  . Serial killer. Executed for the murder of Institution Laundry Foreman Rogert G. Warnke
John Paul, Sr. released 1999 racecar driver, importing marijuana, tax evasion, possession of false passport and attempted first-degree murder of a federal witness.
Keinard Peltier As of 1999 serving his time at UPS Lewisburg. American Indian Movement leader, convicted of murdering two FBI agents, FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive #335, 1975
James Earl Ray 1955-58 Charged with forging documents - later assassin of Martin Luther King
Leslie Isben Rogge  . Bank robber, FBI Top Ten Most Wanted #439,1990
Robert Stroud Transferred to Alcatraz on Dec 19, 1942 Became famous as the "Bird Man of Alcatraz" for studying and raising canaries, making several important contributions to avian pathology, entirely from his cell within Leavenworth.
Thomas Silverman Regarded as one of the prison Bureau's most dangerous prisoners; was held in Leavenworth's basement in a "No Human Contact" Status; transferred to ADX Florence supermax in Florence, 
Michael Vick Released in 2009 NFL quarterback formerly with the Atlanta Falcons, pleaded guilty to operating an unlawful six-year-long interstate dog fighting venture known as "Bad Newz Kennels".
Ricardo Flores Magon He became equally at odds with US authorities 
and eventually died in Leavenworth in 1922, probably dying from long-standing health impairments.
Mexican anarcho-syndicalist intellectual who was in the US during the Mexican Revolution.
Anthony Carollo Deceased Boss of the Lucchese crime family and convicted in the Mafia Commission Trial.

Famous escapees

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


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.

Officer deaths

Five officers were killed in the line of duty at Leavenworth.

    Joseph B. Waldrupe, November 10, 1901, from injuries received during institution mutiny and mass escape on November 7, 1901.
    Andrew F. Turner, March 26, 1916. Murdered by inmate Robert Stroud aka the Birdman of Alcatraz.
    Edgar A. Barr, March 19, 1917. Murdered during an altercation with an inmate.
    John W. Johnson,, September 29, 1974. Murdered during an altercation with an inmate.
    Wayne L. Selle, July 31, 1973. Murdered by inmates during an institution riot.

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

    Andrew H. Leonard, Captain, November 14, 1922. Murdered during an altercation with an inmate in which six other officers received 
      life-threatening injuries.
    Robert G. Warnke, Laundry Foreman, June 20, 1929. Murdered in institution laundry building by serial killer Carl Panzram.

Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville from Wikipedia
Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville or Huntsville Unit (HV), nicknamed "Walls Unit," is a Texas state prison located in Huntsville, Texas, United States. The approximately 54.36-acre (22.00 ha) facility, near Downtown Huntsville, is operated by the Correctional Institutions Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, administered as within Region I. The facility, the oldest Texas state prison, opened in 1849. The unit houses the State of Texas execution chamber. It is the most active execution chamber in the United States, with 423 executions between 1982 and 2008.


The prison's first inmates arrived on October 1, 1849. The unit was named after the City of Huntsville. Originally Huntsville Unit was only for White Texans; the only penalties available to Black Texans were whipping and hanging. During the American Civil War, prisoners at Huntsville produced tents and uniforms for Confederate forces at the prison textile factory. After the American Civil War ended, Huntsville Unit was the only prison in the former Confederate States of America to remain.

Originally women in the Texas Prison System were housed in the Huntsville Unit. Beginning in 1883 women were housed in the Johnson Farm, a privately-owned cotton plantation near Huntsville.

Historically the prison served as the administrative headquarters of the Texas Prison System and the Texas Department of Corrections; the superintendent and the other executive officers worked in the prison, and all of the central offices of the system's departments and all of the permanent records were located in the prison.

In 1974, the prison was the site of an eleven-day siege, one of the longest hostage-taking sieges in United States history. Three armed inmates (Fred Carrasco, Ignacio Cuevas, and Rudy Dominquez) held several hostages in the education department. The ring leader, Carrasco, had been a porter in the chapel. Cuevas usually worked in the inmate dining hall. Ten hostages were employees of the prison system: two were educators, and one was a guard. Later on, the prison chaplain would also become a hostage. Four prisoners were also held as hostages. On the 

815 12th Street Huntsville, Texas 77342
Capacity 1,705
Opened 1849

Notable prisoners:
Chad Butler ("Pimp C")
Duane "Dog" Chapman
John Wesley HArdin

Huntsville Unit's yard during the 1870s

final day, the inmates tried to escape using chalkboards and hostages as shields. Dominquez was killed in the attempt. Carrasco killed Elizabeth Beseda, then shot himself. Julia Standley was also killed that day. Ignacio Cuevas was executed on May 23, 1991 for her murder.


The red brick walls lead to the nickname "Walls Unit."

While the prison is officially the Huntsville Unit, the prison's red brick walls lead to the nickname "Walls Unit." The prison is 160 miles (260 km) southeast of Dallas. The original cellblock had been closed for several years prior to 2011.

Release center

The Huntsville Unit serves as one of the TDCJ's regional release centers for male prisoners. Most male prisoners are released to be closer to their counties of conviction, approved release counties, and/or residences. Male prisoners who have detainers, are classified as sex offenders, have electronic monitoring imposed by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and/or have certain special conditions of the Super Intensive Supervision Program (SISP) are released from the Huntsville Unit, regardless of their counties of conviction, residences, and/or approved release 

The red brick walls lead to the
nickname "Walls Unit."
counties. Rick Thaler, the director of the Correctional Institutions Division, predicted in 2010 that the Huntsville Unit, which serves as the regional release center for Greater Houston, will remain the TDCJ's largest release center. Throughout the history of the Texas Prison System 90% of male prisoners were sent to the unit for the final portions of their sentences before being released. Starting in September 2010 the TDCJ instead began to use regional release centers for male prisoners.

Death penalty

The Huntsville Unit is the location of the State of Texas execution chamber. The TDCJ houses male death row inmates in the Polunsky Unit and female death row inmates in the Mountain View Unit.

Between 1819 and 1923 the method of execution was hanging until Texas authorized the use of the electric chair; the use of the electric chair ended the execution of death sentences by counties in Texas. The chair– often euphemistically called "Old Sparky" was constructed by inmates. Between 1924 and 1964, 362 inmates were executed by electrocution. The chair now resides at the Texas Prison Museum, located on Interstate 45 on the north side of Huntsville which features displays of historical items from the prison system, including shanks and other items confiscated from inmates.

Inmates scheduled for execution are brought from death row to the Walls Unit early in the afternoon of their scheduled execution. Unlike other states, Texas does not allow inmates a special meal, because of abuse of the privilege by past prisoners and the rationale that they did not offer a meal to their victims and therefore should not be allowed a special recognition. Inmates can, but are not required to, make a last statement prior to their execution. By law executions are scheduled to begin after 6:00 p.m. Huntsville (Central) time. The inmates are housed until that time about 30 feet from the door of the execution chamber; the Texas Death House is located at the northeast corner of the Walls Unit, just below the #1 picket. There is no law prohibiting multiple executions in a single day, but this has not happened since September 1951.

The execution chamber is a 9-foot (2.7 m) by 12-foot (3.7 m) room with turquoise walls and a gurney. When Jim Willett was the warden of Huntsville Unit, he added a pillow to the gurney. Two adjacent rooms, which view into the execution room through glass windows, house two groups. One room is reserved for the family or families of the crime victim(s). The other is for the family of the condemned.

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