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US – Called the "Alcatraz of the Rockies," the safest prison and perhaps one of the toughest in the United States, "a purified version of hell," describes a CBS documentary. Here the most powerful drug lord, El Chapo, has to end his days.
The famous prisoner was transferred to the Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, better known as ADX, in the middle of nowhere in Colorado on Friday, July 19. Two days earlier, the Mexican was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a symbolic fine of 30 years of extra detention.
This prison is set up with two objectives: to escape and to keep the worst category of criminals, "this very small category of prison population that does not take human life into account", according to Norman Carlson, former director of the federal office of prisons, quoted in New York Times Magazine in 2015.
ADX houses, for example, the French Zacarias Moussaoui who participated in the preparation of the September 11 attacks or Terry Nichols, an accomplice in the Oklahoma City attack.
As the boss of one of the world's largest drug traffickers, author of several spectacular escapes and guilty party or sponsor of at least 26 murders, El Chapo ticks the boxes for US prison service.
70% of the prisoners are or are going crazy
On the front of the establishment is the motto of "The hell" of Dantes: "You who enter here give up all hope", describes a recent report from Paris Match describing extreme circumstances of detention. The prisoners, all dressed in orange, are isolated 23 hours a day in individual cells, completely soundproof. The lighting is provided by a fluorescent light strip controlled from the outside.
Exits are limited to the gym (a cell without windows with a single drawbar) or the garden in an individual outside cage "from which you can barely see a square of the sky," the magazine said. Every movement is chained and accompanied by armed guards.
The first year is the worst according to Paris Match. Upon arrival, El Chapo, like all newcomers, will be placed on level 0, the safest: one phone call per month and no visitors, no TV, no mail and no canteen. To improve his fate, he will have to earn "bonus days" for good behavior.
A study by psychiatrist Doris Gundersen, reported by Slate, showed that 70% of prisoners are or will become mentally ill. She explains that some of them have tried to swallow razor blades, or that someone else would eat her droppings regularly with "gluttony."
"Prisoners regularly spend days without actually talking to each other," says an Amnesty International report released in 2014, denouncing the violation of rules on the treatment of UN dictated prisoners. A former security guard interviewed by the NGO testifies to the ADX qualifying "much worse than death."
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