United States Penitentiary - Marion

United States Penitentiary - Marion, or USP Marion, is a medium-security facility with an adjacent minimum-security satellite camp. There is a total of 1,366 male offenders incarcerated at this facility located in Southern Illinois -  1,131 at the USP and 235 at the camp.

Inmates at the USP are housed in one-person, two-person and three-person cells. In the camp, prisoners are held in dormitories in two-person cubicles.

USP Marion opened in 1963, and it was built to replace the maximum-security federal prison on Alcatraz Island. It was originally designed to house 500 of the most dangerous inmates in the US, with an aim of rehabilitation while avoiding the abuse that occured at Alcatraz.

In 1968, they implemented CARE, the Control and Rehabilitation Effort, which was a behavior modification program that included placing inmates in solitary confinement or in group therapy sessions and berating them for their deviant behavior.  

In 1973, they introduced “control unit” cells, where inmates would spend at least 23 hours each day in a one-man cell, specifically designed to limit or eliminate the inmate’s contact with other people in the prison, as well as the outside world.

There have been multiple escape attempts from USP Marion, with the most notable occuring on May 24, 1978, when Barbara Ann Oswald, a friend of inmate Garrett Brock Trapnell, chartered a helicopter in St. Louis and ordered the pilot, Allen Barklage, to fly to USP Marion.

Held at gunpoint, Barklage complied, but then wrestled the gun away from Oswald while landing in the prison yard, fatally shooting Oswald.

The most highly-publicized event in the history of USP Marion happened on October 22, 1983, when two correctional officers were killed by members of the Aryan Brotherhood in separate incidents just hours apart.

As a result of the killings, USP Marion went into “permanent lockdown” for 23 years, which meant that all inmates were locked in their cells for at least 22 hours each day. At this point, the entire prison was transformed into control units, which would later be called “supermax.”

This also meant that there was no communal dining, physical activity, or religious services.

In 2006, USP Marion was changed to a medium-security prison and underwent major renovations.

There are multiple notable current and former inmates at Marion USP. John Gotti died in Marion while serving a life sentence. And, former major league baseball player Pete Rose served five months in the camp for filing false tax returns.

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Visiting Hours and Rules

The visiting hours for the USP and the camp are on Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal Holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

A maximum number of four adults and five children may visit an inmate at one time

Getting on the Approved Visit List

Authorized visitors who can visit an inmate include family, friends, and associates. You can't visit an inmate unless he puts you on the visiting list.

Everyone must fill out a visitor form, and they must have a relationship with the inmate prior to incarceration. If a potential visitor does not have a prior relationship with the inmate, their request will be reviewed by the warden.

Once the inmate requests to add someone to their visit list, a correctional counselor will provide them with a visiting form, and the inmate is responsible for mailing these out and letting the potential visitor know that they need to fill out the form and return it to the institution staff.

The unit team will do a background check and determine if a visitor application is approved. They make their decision based on constructive and security factors. The process takes about a week, and the unit staff will notify the inmate when the requested visitor is approved or refused.

It is the inmate’s responsibility to notify the visitor of the decision, and the process is the same for both adult and minor visitors.

Basic Visit Procedures and Rules

If you are 16 years of age or older, you must bring a valid photo ID with you to the visit, like a state or federal ID card, driver's license, or current passport. Birth certificates are not valid forms of ID.

All visitors are subject to a visual and pat search by an officer. You will also be scanned by a metal detector.

Any item you bring into the facility will be opened and searched by a staff member, and anyone who refuses a search of themselves or their property will not be allowed to visit with the inmate.

Visitors are not authorized to bring any item into the institution to give to an inmate. Lockers are available to visitors for the storage of personal items not allowed in the institution. These items can also be returned to the visitor's personal vehicle.

Cell phones, pagers, cameras, or devices of any type are not authorized inside the institution.

Items visitors may bring into the visiting room are limited to:

  • (1) 8" x 10" clear plastic bag to carry change
  • A maximum of $35 in change and or one dollar bills
  • (3) baby bottles pre-filled
  • (5) baby diapers
  • baby wipes in a clear container
  • baby blanket
  • (2) baby food containers with spoon

Baby care items may be carried in a clear bag only large enough for the needed items. Baby strollers, infant car seats, carriers, etc., will not be allowed in the visiting room. Required medication must be left with the visiting room officer.

Visitors should dress within the bounds of good taste and should not wear clothing which would offend others who may be present in the visiting room.

Visitors entering for the purpose of visiting inmates at the USP or SCP will not be allowed visiting privileges unless they are properly attired.

The following attire for visitors will not be permitted:

1. Sweat pants, break-away pants or any athletic type pants
2. Spandex attire, revealing or tight-fitting clothing
3. Halter tops, tank tops or sleeveless shirts
4. Crop tops or strapless garments
5. Brassiere-less (females)
6. Dresses, capris, shorts, and skirts shorter than knee length when standing (or containing slits  that go above the knee when standing)
7. Clothing displaying obscene gestures, language or disruptive symbols
8. Open toe or backless/clog style shoes (exception for young children - use discretion) all shoes must have a back or factory made strap on it.
9. Low cut or backless shirts
10. Bathing suits or bare midriffs
11. Camouflage or combat military type clothing (except military personnel with military ID)
12. Khaki clothing for USP visitors or OD green clothing for camp visitors
13. Hooded garments, hats or scarves
14. Clothing items containing rips, tears, cuts, or holes to include factory made
15. Unlined lace, mesh, or other sheer clothing to include white tops
16. Coats or jackets
17. See-through pants 

Visitors wearing pants below the waistline (sagging) will not be permitted to visit. Visitors wearing any of the above articles of clothing will not be processed.

Physical Address

MARION, IL  62959

Driving Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/LoYikMZwUNx

General Phone Number & Email Address

Phone: 618-964-1441
Email: MAR/[email protected]

Inmate Mailing Address(es)

For inmates at the USP:
P.O. BOX 1000
MARION, IL 62959

For inmates at the Camp:
P.O. BOX 1000
MARION, IL 62959

There is no limit on the amount of mail that inmates receive, but all correspondence must have the inmate’s complete name, registration number, facility name, and address.

You can only send cards or letters to these addresses. Paperback books, newspapers, and magazines must come directly from the publisher via a subscription or mail order.

Inmates cannot receive packages through the mail, with the exception of a package of release day clothing. You can't send the release day package until 30 days prior to the scheduled release date.

How to Call an Inmate

Federal inmates are not allowed to have cellphones and they can't receive inbound calls. They can make outbound calls during approved hours, and they must pay for them with the money that is on their personal account or call collect.

Inmates will use TRULINCS to call to both landline and cell phones. This is also how inmates are able to send and receive emails. Your number must be added to the contact list for approval.

All phone calls are limited to 15 minutes, and will be monitored and recorded.

How to Send Money

Sending money is one of most important things you can do for an inmate. The prison will issue each prisoner the minimum amount of clothing and hygiene items, and provide them with three meals a day. But, it is extremely difficult for prisoners to have any level of comfort when living with just the items that are prison-issued.

Inmates can receive outside funds while incarcerated at a BOP-managed facility, which are deposited into their commissary accounts.

Postal Service

For federal prisoners, you can send money through the United States Postal Service by MONEY ORDER to the following address:

Federal Bureau of Prisons
Inmate Name
Eight-Digit Register Number
Post Office Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

Send the funds to the address above. Replace the second line with the inmate's valid, full committed name. Replace the third line with the inmate's eight digit register number.

Never send money directly to the prison. If you are using the postal service, you must always send your money order to the bureau of prisons using the above address.


You can send an inmate funds electronically using MoneyGram's Express Payment Program.To send funds using this method, please read and follow these steps carefully:

  • Wait until an inmate has physically arrived at Marion USP.
  • Gather the information you'll need. Which includes the inmate’s name and number.
  • Visit moneygram.com to complete your payment.

Information needed to complete MoneyGram payment:

  • Account Number: Inmate's eight-digit register number with no spaces or dashes, followed immediately by the inmate's last name (example: 12345678DOE).
  • Company Name: Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • City & State: Washington, DC
  • Receive Code is always: 7932
  • Beneficiary: Inmate's full committed name

Western Union

If you would like to see a sample Western Union form click here. On their website, they have a special form for sending money to inmates, and you go directly to it by clicking here.

You will need to know the inmate’s full name and number, and you can pay with a debit or credit card at westernunion.com. Remember, any time you send money to an inmate you must always include their name and registration number on everything.

There are a few things that inmates can spend their money on. This includes phone calls, emails, and commissary.  The commissary is the prison store, where inmates can buy things like beverages, meals and snacks, OTC medications, stationary, personal hygiene items, clothing, or other miscellaneous products.

Please be aware that prisoners have their own economy inside the prison walls just like we do in the real world. Inmates that have a lot of money can do a lot of things both legal and illegal. Prisoners can potentially use the money in their account to buy things for other inmates in exchange for drugs and paraphernalia. This activity is illegal and can get an inmate in a lot of trouble.

Is important to keep track of how much money you are sending your incarcerated loved one, and watch out for any suspicious behavior.

​Programs For ​Inmates

  • Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP)
  • Drug Abuse Education Course
  • Non-Residential Drug Abuse Program (NR-DAP)
  • Adult continuing education (ACE) classes
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • GED
  • High School Diploma (via paid correspondence)
  • Post-Secondary Programs (via paid correspondence)
  • Marion USP offers advanced occupational education in Building Trades, Certified Production Technician, and Information Processing
  • Marion USP offers apprenticeships in Electrical, HVAC, Painting, and Residential and Commercial Plumbing. The camp offers Electrical, Wastewater Treatment, and Water Treatment
  • UNICOR facility is an Electronics Cable Factory

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Careers at United States Penitentiary - Marion

If you are interested in pursuing a career with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, you can find available positions at Marion USP by visiting USAJobs.gov. The salaries at the facility begin around $40,000 and can go up into the six-figure range, depending on the position.

Reviews from employees at Marion USP say that it was a difficult work environment, and the work/life balance, salary, and benefits are average.