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What life will be like for Bradley Manning at Leavenworth's military prison

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 21st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

As the former Pfc. Bradley Manning heads back to Leavenworth, Kansas to serve his sentence, what kind of life can he expect? According to all accounts, it will not be an easy one.

FORT LEAVENWORTH, KA (Catholic Online) - Pfc. Bradley Manning has already seen the inside of the Leavenworth military prison, having stayed there for a period while awaiting trial. Although it is possible he could be sent anywhere, the military prison at Fort Leavenworth is the most likely destination for Manning.

Fort Leavenworth houses the most serious military inmates and those who have sentences over 10 years in length. Additionally, it is the military's only maximum-security facility and can house over 500 inmates.

Manning is not likely considered maximum-security, and will probably find himself in a medium security housing situation.

Leavenworth military prison was once an imposing stone-built structure where inmates lived a harsh life similar to what we might expect in the movies. Life in dark cells was dreary and regimented. Hard labor meant just that an inmates were commonly put to work on back-breaking manual projects.

However, the new military barracks opened in 2002, and those facilities are quite modern, and it is said that inmates prefer them more. The prison is well-lit and spacious, which decreases some of the stress inmates face. However, life is still strictly regulated and the staff is constantly vigilant.

At Leavenworth, Manning will enjoy no privacy. Staff and cameras will monitor all his actions and interactions, even when he is sleeping. His cell will be just large enough for himself, furnished with a metal bunk for a thin mattress, a toilet and sink combination, and a small metal writing desk built into the wall.

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As a medium security inmate, Manning will not spend too much time in his cell however. Military regulations require inmates to put in a full day's work, 40 hours per week. Inmates will be assigned to various work details, which extend around-the-clock. Depending on which detail he gets, Manning may sleep during the day and work at night, or vice-versa.

Workers are paid between 14 and 80 cents an hour for work. Money can be sent from the outside and inmates may spend up to $80 per month on personal items and additional food.

Food is served to maximum security inmates on trays through slots in doors, however better behaved inmates can get their food from a cart in a common area. Those inmates also have some privileges such as television time.

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Inmates can also play cards, checkers, and chess to pass their time. Various recreational facilities and activities are available for the lowest-risk and best-behaved inmates.

Visitors may come at any time on weekends and in the evenings on weekdays. However, because many inmates are housed far from home, they do not receive as many visits as do civilian inmates at state facilities.

Another key difference between Leavenworth and civilian prisons is the discipline within. Prisoner's lives are very regimented and they are overseen by professional military staff. Staff are both demanding and precise and expect absolute compliance from inmates.

Inmates themselves often have no significant prior criminal history so the military prison is not rife with gang activities, noise, and filth that can be common in civilian facilities. Leavenworth is kept clean by the inmates, who themselves learned cleanliness in the military.

Most inmates can expect to serve an average of 19 years at the facility, and Manning may not have to serve all 35 years of his time at the facility, but he will serve a good portion of it.

With Manning's conviction, the military is sending a message to others who might likewise consider leaking sensitive military information to outside sources.

Unless you are interested in making Fort Leavenworth your long-term residence, don't leak information.

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