Will Raniere Wind up in Super-Max ADX in Colorado?

Keith Alan Raniere has a chance at winding up at the ADX super-max facility in Florence, Colorado.

He cannot be sentenced to a low-security camp. Anyone with a sentence of more than 10 years must serve their time in a maximum-security prison. And per the applicable sentencing guidelines, Raniere has to receive a sentence of at least 15 years (He’ll more likely get much more than that – and maybe even life)

The question is does he go to a maximum-security prison somewhere in the Northeast – or for his own safety and the safety of other prisoners – to a supermax facility like the ADX supermax US Penitentiary in Colorado?

Raniere will be sentenced sometime in the first half of this year.

He may be deemed a super danger. He is, after all, a man who has been known to hypnotize others. He had a cult that made women and men do extraordinarily destructive things, including branding themselves, starving, going without sleep, and giving up their money and sanity to him while thinking he was their savior.

Running amok among prisoners, and potentially with Bronfman funds to back him from the outside, he could wreak havoc in certain prison settings.

With Bronfman funds used to bribe guards and buy prisoner protection, he might cause a great deal of harm in a maximum-security prison – which is one of the arguments for sending him to a super-max facility.

Where he winds up will be based to some degree on his Pre-Sentencing Report, which we already know is going to be drastically negative.

It is replete with victim impact statements – largely from women – scores of victims – who write about the horrors he imposed on them and how they fear him even from behind bars.

There is a chance Raniere may be assigned to the sex offender unit of some prison. He may also stick around MDC  for a time if there are going to be more charges against him and another trial.

But in the end, he will either wind up in a maximum-security prison or at a super-max facility like the ADX prison.

If it’s the ADX super-max, Raniere will long for the halcyon days he spent in MDC.

As Robert Hood, a former warden of the ADX, told the New York Times in 2015, “This place is not designed for humanity.”

The ADX US prison is located south of Florence, Colorado. Built in 1994 on 39 acres of desert, it is the most secure prison in the United States.

No one has ever escaped.

It has 12-foot high razor-wire-fences, 24-hour surveillance, laser beams, silent pressure pads, attack dogs that attack without barking if someone is found on the grounds, and gun towers with perfect sightlines.

The building is designed so that inmates have no idea where they are located in the facility.

It has a capacity of 484 prisoners.

Prisoners get out by death, transfer to another facility or, in very few cases, they live long enough to see their release date.


It is possible Keith Raniere could start at ADX and by good behavior time, be transferred to a maximum-security prison.


Convicts at Florence spend 23 hours a day locked-up and are only allowed outside of cells with leg irons and handcuffs.

Exercise time is limited and contact with the outside world is kept to an absolute minimum.  Their one-hour out of their cell may occur at any time of the day or night.

Their diet is restricted to ensure that the food cannot be used to harm themselves or to create unhygienic conditions in their cell.

More than 10,000 computer-controlled electronic prison gates all close automatically if any escape attempt is detected.

Electricity is remotely controlled and guards watch prisoners 24 hours a day.

Inside it has 490 beds, 1,400 remote-controlled steel doors, motion detectors, and pressure pads.

Inmates are kept in solitary confinement inside 12 – by-7-foot concrete cells that are sound-proofed to prevent prisoners from communicating with each other by Morse code.



Prison librarians examine every page of every book touched by an inmate to make sure no messages are inserted.

Extreme sensory deprivation and social isolation are two of the fundamental techniques that are used to maintain order in the facility.

In the cells, there are two doors, one with bars and a second made of solid steel. The doors slide open and are controlled from a secure remote control station. Food is hand-delivered to each inmate by guards, but the inmate doesn’t see them. The remotely controlled bars separate each cell from a vestibule, and the solid steel door separates the vestibule from the hallway. Food comes into the vestibule through a slot in the door.

Each cell has an immovable bed, desk, and stool made of concrete and a combination toilet/sink and interior shower.

The toilets shut off if plugged and the showers are on timers.

Mirrors are made of steel. Radios, and, in rare instances, small black and white televisions where prisoners can watch educational close-circuit broadcasts, are used as privileges and are seldom awarded.

Each cell has a small slit for a window near the top of the cell, which a prisoner can look through by climbing on the desk, and which provides a view of the concrete walls of the exercise enclosure into which the inmate is released by remote control for one hour a day, five days a week.

During the hour he is allowed out, the inmate goes into the exercise enclosure, which is a concrete pit with vaulted ceilings and a 4-inch wide, 4-foot long skylight, where he can glimpse the sky, but not the nearby mountains.  The windows are angled so that there are no views of the world outside.

The exercise room permits the occupant to walk 10 steps in any direction, or 30 feet in a circle.

For the first three years, prisoners are not allowed to come into contact with other prisoners. The prison has a “step-down” program, by which prisoners can gradually earn their way, through good behavior, into less restrictive conditions. Over time, good behavior can earn inmates more “outside” time, and a possible transfer back to a less-secure prison.

At the center of the prison is an area known as “the Black Hole,” where the toughest convicts are kept in 148 punishment cells that are kept darkened and completely soundproofed.

Many of the prisoners, if they are not already insane, soon become insane.

Prisoners wail, scream and bang on walls of their soundproof cells. Some mutilate themselves, others carry on delusional conversations. Some spread feces and body fluids throughout their cells. Forty-one percent, according to one study, have hallucinations. Suicide attempts are common; some have been successful.

The current warden of ADX Florence is Andre Matevousian.


Notable current inmates include El Chapo,

Terry L. Nichols [Oklahoma City bomber, serving 161 consecutive life sentences]

Robert P. Hanssen [Former FBI agent who sold classified documents to Russian intelligence; 15 consecutive life terms.]

Ramzi Yousef & Mohammed Salameh [1993 World Trade Center bombers; serving life sentences]

Richard Lee McNair [Master escapist, murderer]

Ted John Kaczynski [aka the “Unabomber,” serving eight life sentences]

Michael Swango [Serial killer, serving three consecutive life terms]

Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev [the Boston bomber, sentenced to death]

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, [built bombs that they planted at the 2013 Boston Marathon; the explosion killed three people and injured more than 250 and sentenced to death.]

Larry Hoover [Chicago gang leader, serving six life sentences]

Mamdouh Mahmud Salim [Al-Qaida cofounder serving a life sentence]

Richard C. Reid [Shoe Bomber, serving three consecutive life sentences]

Dwight York [Pedophile and cult leader, serving a life sentence  aka Malachi Z. York, founded the Nuwaubian Nation in the late 1960s  convicted of racketeering and child molestation (14 children testified against him), and sentenced to 135 years in prison.]

Eric R. Rudolph [Olympic Park bomber, serving two life sentences]

Does Keith Raniere belong here?

This might be Keith Raniere’s future home.



About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • Scott Johnson is mistaken. It doesn’t cost the taxpayer any more to have Keith Raniere placed at ADX Florence. ADX Florence is only about 76% capacity utilization. The fixed costs of running the prison are the same as if it were fully occupied. It is precisely because the capacity utilisation of the prison is so low that the costs per inmate are so high. If Keith Raniere were to come there to serve his prison sentence, not a single prison officer would be hired in addition. Scott, first of all learn how to calculate costs, that should be the basis of any business activity.

    • In business, no such analysis would be accepted without proper supporting data – and as we’ll see, failing to consider and provide such turns out to be a fatal flaw, leading to the present commenter being the one who is largely mistaken.

      So once again we have someone here claiming with certainty, if not even authority, things that fail fact-checking and proper analysis.

      To begin with, Supermax facilities presumably cost more to build, which can’t be entirely ignored even if the money has been spent – in business, following generally accepted accounting procedures (GAAP), it would amortized or depreciated over the life of the facility, and in a proper cost accounting also assigned per inmate per year. Plus the facilities’ complexity likely means higher maintenance costs – something that will also vary depending on how heavily it is utilized, since inmate count will affect wear-and-tear.

      Then, it seems very unlikely that Supermax’s costs are entirely fixed; if the prison isn’t at full capacity then they likely have wings left unused, and there are services from meals to library that likely have staffing adjusted to inmate count. It also seems unlikely that it’s really fully staffed with corrections officers if it’s not fully populated – that might possible, but evidence would have to be provided such a counter-intuitive claim (and, the evidence below proves it no to be the case).

      Next, higher security at Supermax presumably comes in part from higher staffing levels – and, possibly, by paying more for the most qualified and diligent staff – which means that the high cost per inmate is mostly inherent in the nature of such an operation, with under-utilization only a minor factor. It turns out that DOJ/BOP data confirm that Supermax is indeed staffed at a level over 3 times higher than the average prison, as is typical of similar facilities:

      Inmate-to-Staff Ratio Inmate-to-Custody Staff
      BOP overall 4.6 to 1 9.2 to1
      ADX Florence 1.5 to 1 2.5 to 1
      Colorado Supermax 2.0 to 1 3.0 to 1
      Wisconsin Supermax 1.5 to 1 2.2 to 1
      Ohio Supermax 1.8 to 1 2.5 to 1
      Iowa Supermax 1.9 to 1 2.9 to 1
      Nebraska Supermax 3.5 to 1 4.2 to 1

      table source: https://www.justice.gov/archive/opa/pr/2007/February/07_opa_104.html

      Finally, a recent – 2018 – report shows Florence ADX much closer to full capacity:

      “The rated capacity of Florence ADX is 490 inmates. At the time of the CIC inspection, the inmate population was 427, which represents 87.1% of the facility’s capacity.”


      And around that time staffing was reported “at 80 percent staffing level” – lower than the above utilization level and so “officers are in danger due to understaffing”:


      Greatly higher costs per inmate are clearly inherent in such facilities. A couple of sources flesh out what that actually means in dollars (note that these do in fact fit with the above official information that staffing at such facilities is 3 to 4 times higher than average; personnel costs being the largest single expense, overall costs will largely track them):

      “We do know that the average annual cost for a supermax prisoner, according to one study by the Urban Institute, is $75,000 a year, as opposed to $25,000 for a prisoner in the general population. At the Illinois State Tamms supermax, it’s about $92,000 a year.”


      “Costs of operating a supermax prison

      Building a supermax prison, or even retrofitting an old prison, is very expensive. ADX Florence took $60 million to build in 1994.[23] In 2010, when President Obama wanted to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center, costs were expected to be $237 million to renovate, retrofit, and set up the center.[24]

      Compared to a maximum security facility, supermax prisons are extremely expensive to run and can cost about three times more on average.[25] The 1999 average annual cost for inmates at Colorado State Penitentiary, a supermax facility, was $32,383. Compared with the maximum-security prison, the Colorado Correctional Center’s annual inmate cost was $18,549.[26] This is mainly due to the technology needed to further maintain a supermax: high-security doors, fortified walls, and sophisticated electronic systems. There are higher costs for staffing these facilities because more people must be hired to maintain the buildings and facilities. These costs are paid by taxpayers and depend on the jurisdiction of the prison. Federal prisons are provided for by federal taxes, while state prisons are provided for by the state.[26]

      Furthermore, there are many costs that are harder to measure. Supermax facilities have had a history of psychological and mental health issues to their inmates. These psychological problems present an additional layer of burden to society. Additional costs to society are incurred when inmates have a hard time readjusting to normal life after release, and inmates may even be more inclined to commit even worse offenses to society. ”


  • It would be nice to have some updates on the following NXIVM members: Lucas Roberts, Jens Erik Gould, Jim Del Negro, Michel Chernitzky, Siobahn Hotaling, and others who have disappeared. Are they still in NXIVM? You should do a WHERE ARE THEY NOW article. Jim I would guess is still a giant believer. What about the others?

  • Let me tell you something. Keith is in prison by his own will in order to reform the savage US prison system. He will go down in short for ending this American cruelty. He is making a more noble civilization much like Gandhi. #TrustandFollowYourVangaurd

    • There is actually a lot of work done already to reform the prison system. Check out the hunger strikes in California and writing behind the bars writing program

      From MIT. I would love to know how Keith will be different. Will he innovate like his mind blowing patents on the colored scarfs ?? Can’t wait for the next move of the smartest man in the world.

  • A good article, Frank. Very informative stuff.

    But as for Keith himself, he’s not gonna go to a SuperMax prison. Zero percent chance.

    If Joe told you otherwise, then Joe is lying outta his biker butthole. Joe likely suffers from having his brain fried due to eating too many expired macks.

    1) Keith’s crimes are not on par with the crimes of most SuperMax inmates. He’s not viewed as violent, nor is he viewed as a super high-risk victim.

    2) If Keith were sent to a SuperMax simply because of the ‘underage photos’ conviction, they’d have to send 50,000 other perverts across the country to SuperMax prisons too — people with worse convictions.

    3) Our own perception of Keith as a REALLY bad guy (controlling women psychologically) is not necessarily how the US Federal Bureau of Prisons will view him. They are accustomed to seeing REALLY BAD scumbags all day long. Keith is in the minor leagues, in their eyes.

    4) Fact is, Keith won’t be viewed as a ‘sex offender’ or ‘child rapist’ by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, nor will he be viewed as a violent person or a high-risk person. Therefore, he’s gonna be assigned to a garden variety, Medium security prison or possibly a regular Maximum security prison (but not SuperMax).

    5) Keith’s money will not let him be a shot-caller in prison, as you’re implying. He’s a pussy who cries when his glasses get stolen. Clare’s money can ONLY buy him protection from beatings (and a few extra macks) but will NOT allow him to become a powerful inmate in prison.

    6) Keith may even be able to supply Joe with his favorite food via the US Mail system (expired macks) so that Joe doesn’t have to go without one of his favorite things in the whole world. Joe’s mouth is likely watering at this thought.

    • Bangkok,

      Good to have you back. But I think you’re mistaken when you say that a prisoner like Keith Raniere will not possibly end up at the Florence supermax prison.

      Just take a run through the list of prisoners who have been assigned there – http://www.thefullwiki.org/List_of_prisoners_at_ADX_Florence – and you’ll see plenty whose crimes were no worse than those of Keith Raniere. I’ve known several white-collar criminals who ended up at Florence even though their crimes did not involve any violence, drugs or gang-related activity. The only commonality that I could discern is that they all chose to go to trial rather than take a plea deal. So, while I’m not saying that Raniere will end up at Florence, I also think you cannot simply rule that out.

  • I’m disappointed. I thought they would have those magnetic boots that lock your feet to the floor, while you shout “I’m The Vanguard! I’m the Vanguard! ” just before the ultrasonic stunner is activated.

    It will just have to do.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com