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Leavenworth and the word "prison" have been synonymous through the power of the silver screen throughout the years. Leavenworth, Lansing and Fort Leavenworth have four prisons located in the area. None of these facilities allow public tours.

United States Federal Penitentiary,
Metropolitan Avenue, Leavenworth, Kansas
(913) 682-8700

By a special act of Congress, the reservation for the U.S. Penitentiary was deeded by the War Department to the Justice Department in 1897 to build the United States Federal penitentiary (USP) in Leavenworth, Kansas. The decision was made, at least in part, based on the labor available from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth. They, in fact, were used for the first phase of construction and were the first prisoners to be incarcerated in 1903. The first cell house opened in 1906, and USP was completed in the mid-1920's. This prison is the largest maximum security prison in the United States, housing approximately 2,000 inmates.

This magnificent structure can be viewed and photographed from a distance (across the street).

National Archives Central Plains Region
2312 E. Bannister Road
Kansas City, MO 64131

Lansing Correctional Facility
Lansing, Kansas

Kansas State Penitentiary, officially now named the Lansing Correctional Facility (LCF), was constructed during the period of 1863 to 1868, with delays due to the Civil War.

Front view of Kansas State Penitentiary as it appeared in early 1929.
Photo courtesy Jerry Collins.

Why it was located just to the south of Leavenworth is unknown, however, population centers were all on the east side of the state and the site is within sight of the State of Missouri, then a Confederate state. We can assume distance and efficiency factors, in addition to the proximity of troops at Fort Leavenworth in the event of trouble, had some impact on the decision.

This prison is the state's first maximum-security prison and currently houses over 2,000 inmates. At one time this was also the home of the state's women's prison. The medium-security prison in which the women were incarcerated is now a part of the Lansing Correctional Facility.

Kansas State Historical Society State Archives
6425 SW 6th Street
Topeka, KS 66615-1099

United States Disciplinary Barracks
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

The USDB, originally designated the U.S. Military Prison, was established by Congress in 1974 and has been in operation at Fort Leavenworth since May 15, 1875. This military prison has the distinction of offering the first vocational training program established in this country for prisoners. The USDB is the only maximum-security prison in the Department of Defense, incarcerating personnel, both men and women, from all branches of service.

A new Disciplinary Barracks will be built at Fort Leavenworth with completion expected by the year 2000. The new 510-bed facility will be considerably smaller than the present, which houses more than 1,000 inmates.

CCA Leavenworth Detention Center
4th St. Trafficway, Leavenworth, Kansas

This prison, only five years old, is the only privately run correctional facility to have a direct contract with the U.S. Government--in this case the U.S. Marshals Service. It is the only exclusively maximum-security institution run by a private company. The majority of those incarcerated in this facility are federal prisoners from the Midwest, awaiting trial, and once sentenced, awaiting transfer to a Bureau of Prisons institution.


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