President Obama left the impression yesterday that Supermax prisons are ready, willing, and able to house Gitmo detainees.
Supermax officials in Colorado say otherwise:
Moving any large number of terror detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Colorado’s Supermax would require either shuffling current residents out of the Florence prison or expanding its capacity and resolving a long-running battle over adequate prison staffing.
As President Barack Obama and congressional leaders point toward the Colorado federal prison as a possible new home for some of the detainees, one big problem is the bed-space crunch.
Supermax’s approximately 480 concrete cells already are jammed with the likes of Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols, Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph and other notorious domestic criminals. There also are 33 international terrorists, including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Yousef and failed airline shoe bomber Richard Reid.
Only one bed was not filled Thursday at Supermax, U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Tracy Billingsley said.
So getting any more than a handful of detainees from Guantanamo to Florence would require considerable logistical maneuvers to clear room or an even longer-term solution through prison expansion.
The first step, according to the head of the union representing correctional officers, would be to increase staffing at Supermax.
“There’s a whole contingent of issues that have to be well thought out before we ever agreed to bring inmates of that caliber into our system,” said Bryan Lowry, president of the National Council of Prison Locals, which represents federal correctional officers.
Not to mention that jihadi virus problem.