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#1
Old 06-25-2014, 02:44 PM
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Why is Robert Hanssen (Russian spy) serving his sentence at a supermax prison?

I was reading the Wikipedia article about Robert Hanssen, the former FBI agent turned Russian spy who is serving a life sentence at ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado where he is kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day.

I'm wondering what the criteria are in general for sending a felon like Hansson to a high security prison: Hansson is 70 years old and, I would assume, very unlikely to pose a physical threat to correctional officers. He doesn't appear to be prone to violence. Given his background, one would put him in a category with your run-of-the-mill white-collar criminal who could serve his time at low-security facility.

What are the reasons for keeping Hansson under these harsh conditions? Does the government want to punish him really hard for what he did? Are there concerns the Russians might try to contact him again, maybe harm him or even hatch a plot to free him?
#2
Old 06-25-2014, 02:49 PM
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It sends a very strong message to others... doesn't it?
#3
Old 06-25-2014, 02:52 PM
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Perhaps there is concern that he hasn't told all he knows yet, and those who know what he knows would wish to ensure his silence.
#4
Old 06-25-2014, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by dolphinboy View Post
It sends a very strong message to others... doesn't it?
Oh, I remember this guy. Even pictured him exactly as on his Wikipedia page. I really don't think that type of risk-assessment really enters into it. When you get into treason/spying, I assume you know that death is a reasonable outcome. And he didn't even get that. I'm just shocked that he did it for a mere $1.4 million.

Last edited by pulykamell; 06-25-2014 at 02:54 PM.
#5
Old 06-25-2014, 03:02 PM
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Did all his spying in Vienna, Virginia - about five miles down the road, and voted Third Best Town to Live in 2013. Seems ironic.
#6
Old 06-25-2014, 03:16 PM
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This article indicates he was sent there because the prison is good at monitoring communications.

http://content.time.com/time/nation/...267699,00.html

Which, I guess, is the justification for sending most of the notorious terrorists, spys, traitors, and political prisoners there.

Some prisoners there really seem to like it in there, like Woody Harrleson's dad. Reading books and thinking all day. Others, like Terrible Tom, think it is horrid. Probably because they can't read.

I kind of think all prisons should be like Supermax. Cheaper to run. And avoids the middle school type of culture most prison populations seem to develop. Which just reinforces the shitty behavior they were sent there for. I would think sitting alone in a cell for some years would be more like to change a person.
#7
Old 06-25-2014, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Fishtar View Post
This article indicates he was sent there because the prison is good at monitoring communications.

http://content.time.com/time/nation/...267699,00.html

Which, I guess, is the justification for sending most of the notorious terrorists, spys, traitors, and political prisoners there.

Some prisoners there really seem to like it in there, like Woody Harrleson's dad. Reading books and thinking all day. Others, like Terrible Tom, think it is horrid. Probably because they can't read.

I kind of think all prisons should be like Supermax. Cheaper to run. And avoids the middle school type of culture most prison populations seem to develop. Which just reinforces the shitty behavior they were sent there for. I would think sitting alone in a cell for some years would be more like to change a person.
This is what I've always understood to be the case (that it was to monitor any communication with outside world). He still knows stuff that is a danger to National Security - at least according to the FBI - and doesn't want someone - say like a Russian agent coming in to get more intelligence - or like the Chinese to come in and get something they never had.

Even in recent times - there will be attempts by spies to continue running an espionage operation. See for example:

http://oregonlive.com/pacific-no..._him_cash.html
#8
Old 06-25-2014, 07:25 PM
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He would probably be in danger from run of the mill murderers who don't take kindly to child molesters and traitors. And cops. FBI are a kind of cop.

Last edited by The Second Stone; 06-25-2014 at 07:25 PM.
#9
Old 06-25-2014, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by The Second Stone View Post
He would probably be in danger from run of the mill murderers who don't take kindly to child molesters and traitors. And cops. FBI are a kind of cop.
This. And if he's reluctant to co-operate with investigators, considering his current situation, it's not difficult for them to come up with a carrot to encourage him. And there are probably a few sticks up their sleeves too.
#10
Old 06-25-2014, 07:57 PM
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If you haven't seen it already, Breach is a pretty good film about the Hanssen case.

I question whether SuperMax prisons are any cheaper than ordinary facilities, if anything I think they'd be more expensive. Sitting alone in a cell 23 hours a day certainly does change people though, at Port Arthur they had to build a sizeable asylum to house those driven mad by the Silent System.
#11
Old 06-25-2014, 08:00 PM
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I thought it was to piss off Putin, a reason I can endorse. Pretty much the best reason for pretty much anything short of nuclear warfare. Which he'd probably like, so we can continue to piss off that out of shape in shape guy from the 50s by not having one.
#12
Old 06-25-2014, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by lisiate View Post
I question whether SuperMax prisons are any cheaper than ordinary facilities, if anything I think they'd be more expensive.
You can probably get away with fewer guards, but the up-front costs are going to be higher if you can't stick 10 people in one cell. You'd have to build a massive structure to house everyone.
#13
Old 06-25-2014, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
You can probably get away with fewer guards, but the up-front costs are going to be higher if you can't stick 10 people in one cell. You'd have to build a massive structure to house everyone.
Most prisons also rely on a fair amount of inmate labor to do the routine cooking, cleaning, maintenance, lawn-mowing, trash pick-up, and so on. Supermax prisons have to hire outside workers and pay prevailing wages, which are *slightly* higher than the 60 cents a day or so an inmate can expect.
#14
Old 06-25-2014, 09:16 PM
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Super-Max prisons are the most expensive level of security.
#15
Old 06-26-2014, 01:24 AM
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[QUOTE I would think sitting alone in a cell for some years would be more like to change a person.[/QUOTE]

Any psychologist will tell you that solitary confinement is a form of torture and that any decent court would rule it unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment.
#16
Old 06-26-2014, 02:25 AM
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Torture? A warm private cell with books and TV? Getting stuck in a cell with 20 or so psychopathic idiots seems far worse to me. I would go crazy. Perhaps it is an introvert vs extrovert thing.
#17
Old 06-26-2014, 03:53 AM
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Any psychologist will tell you that solitary confinement is a form of torture and that any decent court would rule it unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment.
And any decent human being would say it's exactly what the er deserves.

But to get back to the OP, keep in mind that you are dealing with a person who is an expert at espionage and electronics. Dead drops, brush passes, signals, all things he is trained to do. If you allow him to mingle with the general population or have access to prison jobs (library, kitchen, workshops, etc) God only knows who he would/could communicate with. There's already enough contraband in prisons without dropping an ex-CI agent in the mix, and God help us if he started teaching the other cons how the system works.

Last edited by Chihuahua; 06-26-2014 at 03:53 AM.
#18
Old 06-26-2014, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishtar View Post
Torture? A warm private cell with books and TV? Getting stuck in a cell with 20 or so psychopathic idiots seems far worse to me. I would go crazy. Perhaps it is an introvert vs extrovert thing.
According to Rory Miller, yes it's an introvert vs extrovert thing. There are people who prefer solitary. And there are plenty of people who are driven mad by it. Cite: I saw a lecture of his.
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