Moussaoui's New Home: A Cell in Super-Max Prison Zacarias Moussaoui's sentence means he will be sent to a super-maximum federal prison in Colorado. The high-tech, highly secure jails are controversial among human and civil rights advocates, because inmates have little or no opportunity for human interaction, education or reform. Karen Grigsby Bates reports.
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Moussaoui's New Home: A Cell in Super-Max Prison

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Moussaoui's New Home: A Cell in Super-Max Prison

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Moussaoui's New Home: A Cell in Super-Max Prison

Moussaoui's New Home: A Cell in Super-Max Prison

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Zacarias Moussaoui's sentence means he will be sent to a super-maximum federal prison in Colorado. The high-tech, highly secure jails are controversial among human and civil rights advocates, because inmates have little or no opportunity for human interaction, education or reform. Karen Grigsby Bates reports.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Zacarias Moussaoui will spend the rest of his life in a Super-Max prison in Florence, Colorado. It's home to many of the nation's most notorious criminals. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reports on what Moussaoui can expect there.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES reporting:

The administrative maximum, or ADX, facility, otherwise known as Super-Max, is part of the federal correctional complex in South Central Colorado. When Zacarias Moussaoui enters it, he'll be the latest in a long line of criminal VIP's. Shoe bomber Richard Reid is there, so is Terry Nichols, who was sentenced to life for his role in supporting Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombings. So is Eric Rudolph, convicted of bombing a number of abortion clinics.

But Super-Max is not entirely bombers. Alan Prendergast is a writer for Westward, a Denver Weekly. He's written extensively about the Colorado Super-Max and says it's nestled in the very center of a large prison complex. The facility is designed to isolate what's often described as the worst of the worst of the prison population. Here's what Prendergast says Moussaoui will be facing when he's introduced to his new home.

Mr. ALAN PRENDERGAST (Writer): His room's going to be about seven feet by twelve feet. It will contain everything that he basically will have to live on for the time that he's there. I mean he's going to be there twenty three hours a day. The shower is in the cell. Food is brought into the cell. It's double doored. The food is put in through a slot in the door.

GRIGSBY BATES: The isolation at Super-Max prison is intentional. It is in itself a form of punishment. Critics assert that living long term with no human interaction may actually compound anti-social behavior. When he was allowed to address the jury before sentencing Moussaoui told them he would have preferred a death sentence to life imprisonment. Alan Prendergast says he's heard that voice before.

Mr. PRENDERGAST: It is a miserable kind of half life. It, you know, you are constantly being watched, your privileges are so restricted. You have to, you're alone with yourself a great deal of the time, and there's really not much to do.

GRIGSBY BATES: The mother of a teen who was once sentenced to a Wisconsin Super-Max facility told a local paper she'd rather see him in the general prison population for five years than in a Super-Max for less time. He is, she said, in a breathable coffin, just buried alive. For some, including Zacarias Moussaoui, that's a fate worse than death. Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News, Los Angeles.

BRAND: And there's full coverage of the Moussaoui trial and sentencing at our website. Hear reactions from some of the families of the September 11 victims, and get a legal analysis of the trial verdict and sentence, go to our website, npr.org.

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