United States Penitentiary, Florence High

Coordinates: 38°21′39″N 105°06′09″W / 38.360771°N 105.10242°W / 38.360771; -105.10242

US Penitentiary, Florence High
USP Florence High.jpg
LocationFremont County,
near Florence, Colorado
Security classHigh
Population816 (December 2019)[1]
Managed byFederal Bureau of Prisons
WardenCharles A. Daniels

The United States Penitentiary, Florence High (USP Florence High) is a high-security United States federal prison for male inmates in Colorado. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. USP Florence High is part of the Florence Federal Correctional Complex (FCC Florence), which is situated on 49 acres (20 ha) of land and houses different facilities with varying degrees of security. It is named "Florence High" in order to differentiate it from the United States Penitentiary, Florence ADX, the federal supermax prison located in the same complex.

FCC Florence is located in Fremont County, Colorado, 90 miles (140 km) south of Denver.[2]


USP Florence High was built in 1993 in response to the growing need for a place to house high-security federal inmates. It was designed by DLR Group, an architectural firm specializing in correctional facilities. Before the complex was built, the city of Florence was experiencing an economic crisis with an unemployment rate of 17%. When the citizens were polled by mail about building the complex in Florence, 97% of respondents were in favor of the project. It was estimated that the Florence Federal Correctional Complex was going to provide about 1,000 temporary jobs and 900 permanent jobs. In anticipation of these jobs the community raised $160,000 to purchase the 600 acres (240 ha) needed to build the prisons.


USP Florence High housed 816 male inmates as of December 2019,[1] and is about 390,020 square feet (36,234 m2). A perimeter fence, seven guard towers, and a patrol road ensure the security of the prison.[3] The prison includes health services, educational program areas, visitation, laundry, a barbershop, commissary, chapel, Special Housing Unit (SHU), and an exercise area.

Notable incidentsEdit

In 2000, seven federal correctional officers who the union called "The Cowboys" were charged with committing misconduct which occurred between January 1995 and July 1997, which included beating and choking handcuffed inmates, mixing waste into the inmates' food, and threatening other officers who objected to their actions.[4] The case went to trial in 2003 and three of the officers, Mike Lavallee, Rod Schultz and Robert Verbickas, were convicted of violating the civil rights of inmate Pedro Castillo by beating him while he was in restraints. Lavallee and Schultz were also convicted of engaging in a conspiracy to commit civil rights violations.[5] All three were sentenced to prison terms.[6]

On April 20, 2008 a large-scale riot occurred between inmates, during which several inmates were stabbed with homemade knives known as "shanks." Correction officers who were posted on watch towers shot and killed two of the armed inmates.[citation needed]

Notable inmates (current and former)Edit

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Ross Ulbricht 18870-111 Transferred to USP Tucson. Convicted in 2015 for operating Silk Road marketplace web site.
Gary Ridgway 02072-122 Serving a Life Sentence by the state of Washington Known as the Green River Killer, Ridgway committed murder, rape and necrophilia in the Seattle and Tacoma area. Ridgway spent May 2015 to October 2015 in USP Florence to feel safe in General Population. In 2015 transferred back to Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla
Ronell Wilson 71460-053 Serving a life sentence. Gang leader in Staten Island, New York; murdered NYPD Detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews, who were conducting a sting operation to buy an illegal gun in 2003.[7][8]
Osiel Cárdenas Guillén 62604-079 To be released in 2025. Mexican drug lord and former leader of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "BOP: Population Statistics". www.bop.gov. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  2. ^ "BOP: USP Florence High". Bop.gov. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  3. ^ Bosworth, Mary (ed.) (2005). Encyclopedia of Prisons and Correctional Facilities, Vol. 2. pp. 1115–1116.
  4. ^ "National News Briefs; Prison Guards Charged In Attacks on Inmates". The New York Times. 2000-11-04.
  5. ^ Boczkiewicz, Robert (2003-06-25). "Three prison guards convicted, 4 acquitted in fed 'Cowboys' trial - Pueblo Chieftain: Metro". Chieftain.com. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  6. ^ Alan Prendergast (2003-06-26). "Cowboy Justice - Page 1 - News - Denver". Westword. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  7. ^ Brick, Michael (February 6, 2007). "Detectives' Killer Breaks Windows in Jail". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  8. ^ Hays, Tom (July 24, 2013). "Ronell Wilson, NY Cop Killer, Gets Death Penalty". Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 November 2013.

External linksEdit