Who is the Most Dangerous Prisoner in the World?
It is difficult to label one individual as the most dangerous prisoner in the world. There is perhaps no one person who can be considered the most dangerous; the title can be given to any number of people, for different reasons. Some prisoners are dangerous to one another and to guards inside a prison, others may be notorious criminals whose reputation and extensive network allows them to control the lives of other people in and outside of the prison walls, and yet another kind of dangerous prisoner is one who spends his incarceration time plotting new crimes. Still, others are dangerous for their ability to escape the confines of even a famous prison that seems impenetrable.
The United States has about 1.3 million people locked away in prisons, with some 700,000 there for violent crimes. If you think you know someone who deserves the title of the most dangerous prisoner you may find out where they are held by doing a nationwide inmate search.
Who is The Most Dangerous Inmate?
Thomas Silverstein is the most violent prisoner in the world. He began his criminal career with armed robberies in the 1970s and ended it in 2019 when he died in prison after 36 years of solitary confinement. For many years Silverstein was considered the country’s most dangerous prisoner due to his crimes both in- and outside of prison. Outside of prison, he was a habitual criminal whose offenses were increasingly violent. By the age of 25, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and was held at Leavenworth where he formed ties to the Aryan Brotherhood gang. He was convicted in 1980 of murdering a fellow inmate who refused to aid the gang’s drug smuggling enterprise. Transferred to the maximum security unit at Marion, Illinois, he was then involved in the murder of a rival gang leader and the murder of a guard. Marion was put on lockdown that lasted more than 20 years. Silverstein was transferred to maximum security in Atlanta with the caveat that he have “no human contact” in solitary confinement. He was eventually sent back to Leavenworth and later to ADX Florence where he died.
Where The Most Dangerous Criminals Are Held?
To hold the most dangerous prisoners in the U.S., the federal government has constructed a “Supermax” (ADX) prison at Florence, Colorado. It has become a famous prison for features like sound-dampening construction and tiny windows that don’t allow prisoners to communicate with one another or to figure out their precise locations within the building. Each remains shackled even when allowed an hour outside of their cells to exercise in a cement pit approximately the size of a swimming pool. The prison holds more than 400 at full capacity but is currently housing just over 350 individuals. Due to their high level of dangerousness and long sentences, prisoners here may not show up on a nationwide inmate search, as information about the ADX facility is closely guarded.
What Famous Prisoners Are in ADX?
ADX Florence is intended as a temporary holding location to teach the most high-risk prisoners appropriate behavior before they are transferred to other penitentiaries but many are long-time residents of the facility due to their potential to inspire new criminals or direct crimes if allowed to communicate to those outside the walls. Among the most notorious believed to be there are:
- “Unabomber” Theodore “Ted” Kuczynski, a recluse who sent mail bombs to university researchers for decades because he hated advancements in science.
- “Marathon bomber” Dzhokar Tsarnaev, a young immigrant to Boston who with his brother Tamerlan conceived and carried out the domestic terrorism bombing near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon that killed 3 and injured 250 in a large crowd. They used a pressure cooker packed with explosives and shrapnel. His brother was killed in a police shootout days later.
- Zacarias Massaoui, who is serving six life sentences for assisting the hijackers who carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
- Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted in 1994 of the first World Trade Center bombing that killed 6 and injured 1,000, as well as another plot to blow up dozens of planes. He is serving life plus 240 years.
- Umar Abdulmutallab is a Nigerian national connected to al Quaida who is serving four life sentences plus 50 years for attempting to bomb an airliner using explosives hidden in his underwear, earning him the “Underwear Bomber” nickname.
- Terry Nichols, the partner of Timothy McVeigh, who created a bomb from fertilizer and blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma in 1995, killing over 150 people. McVeigh, a military veteran who was unhappy about the F.B.I.’s assault on religious extremists at Waco Texas, was sentenced to death.
- James Marcello, a Chicago Mafia figure who participated in the murders of 18 people as well as extortion and bribery, is serving a life sentence.
- Gary Hoover, who is serving six life sentences for activities as the leader of the Gangster Disciples in the 1970s as well as continuing criminal activities and directing the gang from prison through the 1990s.
Many famous prisons have been compromised by criminals, and it’s not because the walls weren’t thick or high enough, it’s because the prisoners bribed guards to work for them. In these prisons, it’s usually drug kingpins who leverage their wealth and extensive connections to turn prison into a new kingdom for themselves, essentially creating a stronger and wider network of underlings. Many times that includes guards who bring illicit items such as phones and drugs into the prisons in exchange for money or favors.
Prison security was in the news in 2016 when notorious Mexican drug lord and cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera was tried in New York federal court for conducting an international drug-smuggling operation. He had escaped custody from a Mexican jail by using a mile-long tunnel dug to his cell, allowing him to reach freedom. It is believed that one of his underlings informed U.S. federal marshals of his whereabouts, allowing him to be recaptured.
Famous Prisons Include:
- Maryland’s entire prison system is suspected to be corrupted by the strength of a gang, the Black Guerrilla Family, which has lead to indictments of several guards for cooperating with demands of the inmates including smuggling illicit materials to them and committing crimes on behalf of the kingpin.
- Soledad and San Quentin prisons, in California, are well known for being compromised by gang leaders who are able to continue drug-running businesses from inside the walls. Guards here are frequently bribed to provide favors to gang members and violence is common. Notorious gangs MS-13, Bloods, and Crips are well-represented and recruit from the population in this facility. The state’s maximum security facility, Pelican Bay, holds the worst of the state’s longterm inmates yet security is tight even about divulging information about their treatment.
- Polunsky prison, Livingston Texas relies on 22 hours per day of solitary confinement for each prisoner.
- Angola, Louisiana’s maximum security facility, regularly provides prisoner labor to nearby businesses, and conditions within the facility have been so bad that inmates cut their own achilles tendons in protest.
- Rikers Island, New York is a multi-prison facility that has a reputation for breaking even the worst criminals due to its historical overcrowding and poor conditions; the fear of being sent to Rikers is enough to make many criminals cooperate with police.